Save us from the $500 bus fares!

Save us from the $500 bus fares!

Thursday, January 28, 2021

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Dear Editor,

As a poor ordinary man who takes public transportation, as the cheapest option, I need to bring to the public's attention a matter in which I seek support. This is the condemnation of bus operators who ply the Mandeville to Kingston and Mandeville to Spanish Town routes who are overcharging patrons.

A few years ago when the Mandela Highway was being upgraded, the operators on this route increased the fare from that set by the Transport Authority/Ministry of Transport of $450. It was moved to $500 with the excuse being that they had been re-routed to the toll road and so, faced with the increased toll costs, the commuter had to pay more. This increase, though illegal, was allowed.

Now the highway upgrade is completed and the new roadway is now being used by the operators, yet there has not been a removal of this illegally imposed fare increase.

Then, sometimes they issue tickets with $450 written on them, yet they collected $500. As recent as last week I got no ticket.

The situation is even worse on the Mandeville to Spanish Town route because the extortionary and exploitative rent is even greater; being $500, instead of the $350 set by the Transport Authority.

Against this background, I hereby pose the following questions:

1) What is the role and function of the Ministry of Transport in monitoring and setting fare rates?

2) What is the role and function of the Transport Authority in a matter such as this; for example, do they ensure that tickets are issued to commuters?

3) What recourse does a commuter have, having been so abused?

I have come to the considered conclusion that the Minister of Transport Robert Montague, the statutory body — in this case the Transport Authority — as well as the bodies which represent bus operators have little interest in protecting commuters.

While ordinary commuters are under constant pressure, these officials cruise around, sometimes chauffeur-driven, and mostly at the taxpayers' expense, in their air-conditioned conveyances, while we fight to be put in a space on one of these “slave ships” called public passenger vehicles which then take us — while hanging on the edge of our seats — to our respective destinations.

I am almost sure the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) spokesman on transport is going to claim ignorance regarding this, but if he does it is probably another indication of his party's lack of appreciation of the important things that affect the day-to-day lives of the ordinary citizen, many of whom they failed to motivate to go out and vote in the last election.

E Brown

Spalding PO

Clarendon


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