Cabinet has approved a 25 per cent increase for the public transportation sector, but took the decision to keep the concessionary fare at $20 for students, the elderly and the disabled, Minister of Transport, Works and Housing Dr Omar Davies announced yesterday.
Davies, who was speaking during a press conference at his ministry, said the new fares would take effect on Sunday.
The minister acknowledged that the increase was "significant", but argued that it demonstrated "sensitivity to the lowest-income persons".
"What we are saying is that the 25 per cent (increase) applies to less than half of the commuters, but for 55 per cent of the commuters, there has been no change in the cost," he said in reference to the concession fare which remains unchanged.
"Sometimes there is no best choice. There is, in a lot of instances, you select that which brings the least pain," Davies added.
The state-owned Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) would not disclose the level of increase it requested, but the company's chairman, the Reverend Garnett Roper, said he "accepted" the new fare.
"What is the point of increasing fares when your ridership [will] decrease because people can't pay it? It's not our call, but we accept it," Roper said.
"In the discussion with the Government, we have discussed some quid pro quo, but that's nothing to disclose," he added.
To help the state-owned bus company stop revenue slippage, the Transport Authority announced that over the next six months, transport operators on some of the JUTC's more profitable routes would be gradually phased out.
"This will be discussed with them (the availability of other routes) and they will be granted to them if they so desire," TA Chairman Norton Hinds told journalists.