Government launches temporary free big bus service to fight fare hike

Government launches temporary free big bus service to fight fare hike

The Ministry of Transport in an effort to force mini bus operators not to increase their fares has instituted a free “big bus service”. The service was launched Monday by transport minister Robeson Benn who said the government was prepared to add more buses to the lineup if minibus operators continue with their demands for higher fares.

Ten buses are on the schedule right now and are plying routes along the East Bank of Demerara, heading as far as Timehri and routes along the East Coast of Demerara and also to communities on the West Demerara.

Mini bus operators plying many of the same routes have been talking about a possible move to increase their fares to keep up with the costs attached to their operations. It’s unclear how long the free bus service will continue for. The service is costing the government close to $250,000 per day.

“The Ministry of Public Works has become increasingly concerned about the state of public transportation resulting out of threats for the withdrawal of services”, the Minister said.

He added that he was informed that minibus operators have been forcing commuters to pay the increased fares while in some cases others are being made to pay full fares for half way journeys.

“We have had to bring in buses free of charge before to try to alleviate the situation and to bring the operators to a position where they would consult with the relevant authorities as it relates to increasing fare.”

According to Benn, Ministry does not want to encourage a situation where commuters are suffering as a result of a one sided action by minibus operators.

“Our response started in a small way on Saturday, with 44 – seater minibuses plying the East Bank, Canal and West Bank route but the number of buses will increase later this evening,” he stated.

Many of the commuters took advantage of the new initiative although it was not clear how long it will last.

Filed: 16th September, 2014

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