Transport fare increase uncertain - Operators meeting with minister to discuss issues
A meeting yesterday between transport minister Mike Henry and a group of transport operators ended without any clarity as to whether there will be a fare hike, which the operators have asked for to help reduce the impact from the increases in the tax on gas.
A statement yesterday from the ministry said that Henry believed that "if we can fix the issues bedevilling the transport sector, then there is no need for an immediate increase in bus and taxi fares".
Henry gave the update during a meeting with the Egerton Newman-led Transport Operators Develop-ment and Sustainable Service, which had asked for a 50 per cent fare hike.
But Newman told The Gleaner that his group would still be pushing for an increase, even if some of the things are addressed.
"We looked at a number of things that can cushion the transport sector's operation cost. We did not look directly in this meeting at a fare increase. He (Henry) said he wanted to hear from the entire sector and the man in the street. And we welcome that," he said.
EXAMINE SEVERAL THINGS
Newman said that Henry "put a number of things on the table" and if some of those are done, "we would not have to go to that level of fare increase that we asked for", but "we have said very loud and clear to him that we need a fare increase".
The transport ministry statement said that Henry "bemoaned" the lack of a structured transport system in St Elizabeth, Manchester, and Clarendon, as well as a designated time-driven operation for the state-owned Jamaica Urban Transit Company.
"Minister Henry has also given his commitment to the group of transport operators that he will be reviewing, with immediate effect, the stage fare carriage cost system that has not been utilised in many years. He is also encouraging operators to buy insurance in large groups in order to obtain discounts, which will positively impact their operational costs. He has also assured them that there will be no increase in fees from the Transport Authority for this financial year," read the statement.
Under a stage fare system, passengers pay according to the distance travelled.