Minibus fares are to be increased by $20 across-the-board from next month following an agreement between the United Minibus Union (UMU) and the Ministry of Business.
The UMU and operators from various routes have been lobbying for toll increases for months after increases in the price of gas and some East Coast and East Bank operators have staged protests.
According to a press release issued by the Ministry yesterday, at a meeting with the Union on August 9th, it was agreed that a $20 “across-the-board fare increase” for minibus operators was appropriate at this time.
“The Ministry of Business has undertaken to draft the new fare structure for the various zones and routes and make this available to the United Minibus Union for circulation to its members. Minibus operators are required by law to display the fare structure in all buses,” the statement said.
It also said both parties have agreed for there to be an established code of conduct for minibus operators and for them to continue their engagement on the matter. The need for proper enforcement was also highlighted and discussed at the meeting and there was a consensus on the need for it to be urgently addressed with the relevant authorities.
“The two parties urge both operators and consumers to adhere to the new fare structure which will become effective on September 1st, 2018,” the statement added.
Speaking to Stabroek News yesterday, UMU President Eon Andrews said he was delighted they were able to come to a “solution and not a conclusion” and added that he is hoping the increased fees will inherently curb certain illegal activities, such as overcrowding.
Andrews also called for special training sessions for persons desirous of becoming bus conductors in order for them to learn how to be hospitable and courteous to the commuters.
“Licences should also be a condition now. You find a lot of people that tout around the park, when the police check, they jump in the bus and they say that they are licensed conductors. There should be some kind of couple days of training in hospitality and whichever agency is in charge can issue them with a paper that qualifies them to go and get the licence,” he explained.
The proposal that was submitted by the UMU to the Ministry is for an increase of $20 for short drop fares and a $40 increase for other operators. It also requested the consideration of a five-year moratorium on the importation of minibuses, which Andrews and other operators say is putting the public transport sector under strain, and for there to be a reasonable reduction in the excise tax on fuel.
Andrews also said they are satisfied at the progress so far and even though they can’t always have a “win-win” situation, the union will ensure that they continue to engage the relevant agencies to ensure that all the issues affecting the sector will be addressed.