‘We cyaa pressure poor people’
Taxi operators want fares capped at $150
TAXI AND BUS operators in the Kingston Metropolitan Area are insisting that fares be capped at $150 given the impending increase announced by Transport Minister Audley Shaw recently. The operators received a 15 per cent increase in September 2021...
TAXI AND BUS operators in the Kingston Metropolitan Area are insisting that fares be capped at $150 given the impending increase announced by Transport Minister Audley Shaw recently.
The operators received a 15 per cent increase in September 2021 which brought fares to $115. But arguing that the increase was inadequate, many hiked it to $150.
Now they say they want the Government to legitimise this amount, contending that any more would put too much pressure on the commuting public.
“When you have di flat rate at $150 everybody will know cause some people are still paying the $120, dem wah get a firm argument bout di $150,” Hervie Small, a bus driver who operates from downtown to Temple Hall, told The Gleaner. “If dem even raise it, wi still ago collect di $150, wi nah put no pressure pon di passenger dem, but wi wudda settle fi di $150 straight.”
His colleague Caswell Myrie, who operates on the downtown to Windward Road route, admitted that most taxi operators “forced” the $150 they now charge their passengers, and is concerned about their reaction to any further increase.
And telling The Gleaner that he is more exposed to the struggles of the public, Maleek Brown, a taxi operator who traverses the Duhaney Park to Half-Way Tree route, is also against an increase that goes beyond $150.
“It nuh mek no sense,” he asserts. “Food price cyaa up and taxi price up and di people, and people haffi pay dem rent. Dat mek sense? Dem a work fi pay taxi fare? Mi nuh wah nothing fi benefit me, it nuh mek sense, anything weh a come in play right now haffi can help di whole world, taxi man always survive,” he said.
“We understand seh it aguh mek more money go inna wi pocket but wi nuh see no better out here so we cyaa pressure poor people. Now di fare deh a $150, people still a carry $80,” he added.
Adrian Harriot, a taxi operator on the Whitehall to Half-Way Tree route, shared similar concerns about the cost of living.
“Right now where the country is, where inflation is, people cannot afford a fare increase right now. Dem shudda just mek it stay at $150,” he said. “I don’t think at this point in time they should have grant a increase for us, yes, wi need it, but the passengers they’re suffering even more than us,” he said. “We can wait, we can manage it.”
While waiting for a taxi in downtown Kingston, 59-year Tia Rowe from Windward Road also dismissed the idea of taxi fare increasing beyond $150.
“Dem cyaa go further dan $150. Wah aguh happen to we now? Worst like mi weh not even have a 9-5,” she said.
Meanwhile, President of Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS), Egerton Newman, told The Gleaner that the National Public Transportation Steering Committee will be making an official submission for an increase in three weeks.
And while he would not disclose the amount they will be requesting, his association had reportedly recently requested a 110 per cent increase, and according to Newman, it “might be the same figure” that TODDS proposed.
“Every item that goes into the operation of the public transport sector has increased up to 500 per cent in some cases. And we think, a 15 per cent increase…the world knows it could not work,” he said.
Although he admits that a further increase will affect passengers, he believes they will understand.
“For the past 25 years that I have been involved in the sector, every time I apply for a fare increase, war from commuters. But over time they understand what we are going through and all they are saying don’t put on much,” he said.
Stating that he is happy for Shaw’s announcement, Newman further advocated for a transport policy that will address the disparity between rural and urban taxi fares, and introduce a stage carriage system in the urban areas.
“It really needs somebody who has the guts as a minister to stand up and work with the sector and have a transformation of the sector,” he said.