EXPRESSIONS of disappointment and uncertainty for the future coursed through the Corporate Area yesterday following Government's announcement that public transportation fares will be increased by 25 per cent as of next Sunday, August 25.
This means a move from $80 to $100 for the Government-run Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), as well as for route taxis.
"I am really disappointed," said Trevor Ratchery as he walked along Old Hope Road. "How are we going to cope?" he asked rhetorically.
Keith Blackwood and Otis Smith also referenced the difficult economic times in which the increase comes.
"I heard about the plan (to increase fares) and see it there, I already start to practise walking [because] it will not be easy, especially with what is happening now," said Blackwood.
"Pressure dem a pressure poor people," said Smith, who was in downtown Kingston when he spoke with the Jamaica Observer. "Tings already hard. You know how dat going be difficult to cope with?"
There were persons like Samantha Erskine who also voiced disappointment over the move, but did not wish to comment further.
The increase was announced by Dr Omar Davies at a press conference at the Maxfield Avenue offices of the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing. Under the new structure, children under the age of 12, students in uniforms, disabled persons and pensioners will be required to pay half of the increased amount if travelling in vehicles other than those operated by the JUTC. Concessionary fares will, however, remain at $20 for the JUTC, but only under the condition that passengers use SMART cards.
In contrast to the views of disappointment, there were those who said they did not object to the increase and, in fact, were at least mentally prepared for it.
"Right now everything on the rise. Cost a living increasing so it is no surprise that the cost for fares would also change," said Ronald Whyte, a resident of Portmore who works in Kingston.
Carol Smikle, who works in Cross Roads, had similar views.
"This is something that we were all bracing ourselves for. It has been a while since there was an increase, so this is understandable," she said.
In August Town, Joel Barnes felt that if the increase did not come now it was bound to happen at a later date.
"A just how tings a run now. Tings a go up so a the same ting with fare," he said.
Meanwhile in Spanish Town, Dean Foster said the move did not come as a shock to him.
"Me did a prepare miself to hear something like this from a longer time," he told the Observer. And for Jack Ini, anything more than a $20 increase would have been too much.
The last fare increase granted to operators of route taxi operators and rural stage carriages was in January 2010, when a 20 per cent increase was approved. For the JUTC, a 60 per cent increase in the fare for adult passengers and a 33 per cent increase in the fare for concessionary passengers was granted four months later, in April 2010.