Union to seek bus fare rise in other parts of country

A Georgetown Minibus park (File Photo)

Representations will be made for there to be an increase in bus fares for those travelling to and around Berbice, Linden, Bartica and Lethem, Head of the United Minibus Union (UMU) Eon Andrews said.

After discussions between the Union and the Ministry of Business to settle an impasse which had resulted in some Demerara mini bus operators striking for an increase in fares, an increase of $20 was granted across the board for the routes 31, 32, 40, 41, 42, 44, 46, 47 and 48.

However, route 63, which runs from Georgetown to Corentyne; 56, which runs from Rosignol to New Amsterdam; 50, which goes from Georgetown to Rosignol, and those traveling to and within Linden, Bartica and Lethem have not had their fares increased.

Speaking to Stabroek News  on Friday, Andrews said that both commuters and bus operators who travel the routes mentioned above have contacted the Union multiple times since the starting of the month inquiring whether their fare structure was increased and if it would be in the future.

He explained that while he is currently tabulating the fares for the different areas, representations will be made the next time the Union meets with the Ministry.

“I have found some of them [bus operators] and they are to give me the requisite information and when the Minister calls for a meeting I will be able to get two representatives and include them in that meeting that I suspect will be dealing with some of the code of conduct,” Andrews explained.

He said those routes that cover long distances without stopping should not be subjected to the same $20 across-the-board increase but a higher figure.

In addition to the fares being increased, bus operators were also mandated to ensure that they have the new fare structure displayed so that all commuters would be able to clearly see it. However, persons have related that most buses do not have the document on display and Andrews says that persons should not use those buses that are without the new fare structure.

The Union and the Ministry are also set to iron out talks about a code of conduct that bus drivers and conductors will have to follow and Andrews pointed out that the majority of the UMU’s members agreed that one should be put in place.

“We’ve had our own decisions pertaining to the area of operation, mode of dress, and I don’t think they will have a choice because you can’t allow everybody to do whatever they want because you will have problems. There has to be a regulatory body set up and he [Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin] mentioned that,” Andrews said.

“These bus people; they wanted something and they got it. They have to stop being so unscrupulous and must be more customer friendly. These people travel with them every day and a lot of people [commuters] would’ve indicated to me that they don’t mind an increase but there must be a code of conduct and things like having four in a seat and the rude manner in which some conductors speak…should no longer be permitted,” he added, while reasoning that whenever there is an increase in fares then the quality of service must also be improved and while it will take some time, it is something they are working towards.

“We have to erase the culture of greed and lawlessness and somewhere along the line we have to rope in the owners who hide and just give their buses to work,” Andrews stated.

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