THE Government will finally make public the level of increases for travelling on Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) buses, and other forms of public transportation, on Monday.
A release from the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing yesterday invited media coverage for a press conference Monday to be held by portfolio minister, Dr Omar Davies at the ministry's Maxfield Avenue head office in Kingston.
The release said that the minister will give details of a new fare structure for the JUTC and other public transport operators, as well as respond to other pertinent issues relating to the sector.
The ministry noted that, following applications for a fare increase by the JUTC and other transport operators earlier this year and consultations with various stakeholder groups, "a decision has now been reached concerning said rate increase".
However, the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has come out against any increase in the cost of public transportation to commuters.
In a response to the release, Opposition spokesman on transport and works, Karl Samuda, said that he could not understand why the Government would be implementing a fare increase at this time, without making any changes to the company's operational structure. He also accused the Government of failing to respond to his call in Parliament in May for a comprehensive report on the JUTC operations.
"We need a comprehensive report on what has been done to bring about the level of efficiency and stewardship that the JUTC needs before coming to the Jamaican people with an increase," Samuda said.
Former Minister of Transport and Works Mike Henry has also lashed out against the proposed increases, stating that they would be "inequitable, unsustainable and downright unfair to the travelling public".
"It will only place an even greater burden on the country and the rural-urban travellers, especially schoolchildren from the parishes not served by the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC)," Henry said in a letter to the media on Thursday.
The JUTC last increased its fares to $80 per trip for all commuters, except students and the elderly who pay a subsidised fare of $20 each, with passes.
In 2010 when the fares were last increased, the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) had suggested that the fares be hiked to $131 for adults and $40 for children and the elderly. However, this was rejected by Henry, the then minister in the previous JLP Government.
Meanwhile, Dr Davies commented recently that changes in price, the exchange rate and the cost of fuel have made it impossible for those fares to continue to make "economic sense".