Mixed reactions to fare hike in WestmorelandWednesday, August 18, 2021
BY KIMBERLEY PEDDIE
SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — There are mixed reactions from commuters in this parish about the 15 per cent increase in taxi and bus fares, which took effect yesterday. Some believe the hike is ill-advised while others said it is long overdue.
The increase announced by the transport ministry last week is the first in the last eight years. Fares for children and the disabled remain the same, as do fares for State-run transport providers JUTC and MoBay Metro. But Westmoreland commuters do not benefit from either of the State-run options which cover, respectively, the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR) and the western resort city of Montego Bay.
“At this time in the pandemic, I don't think the fare should increase because a lot of people lost their jobs,” street vendor Tedd Brown told the Jamaica Observer. He sells face masks in batches of five for $100. Small retailers like him, he said, would be particularly impacted as they source their stock in Kingston.
“It affects the people cause yuh haffi go pay extra fare fi di goods,” explained Brown.
An elderly woman, Gloria Johns, also believes the increase comes at a bad time. “Some [commuters] nuh get nuh raise a pay, so how dem a go pay raise a taxi fare?” she queried. “Some a dem not even in any job, so a how dem a go pay taxi fare?”
She now pays $150 to get from Hartford to Savanna-la-Mar, she said.
But unlike Brown and Johns, educator Toni Barrett thinks the fare hike is justified. Cabbies, she said, are also faced with rising costs as they try to make a living like everyone else.
She said she already pays, on average, $20,000 a month to commute to her job in Negril but it would be selfish of her to make a fuss over the fare increase. “They are due a fare increase as [fuel] has been increasing over the years. With the fare being the same for so long taxi drivers and public vehicle operators have been suffering great loss, to be honest,” said the educator.
Though they have complained, commuters have absorbed other price increases in the past, she noted, so the fare hike should be no different.
Wayne Braithwaite, who sells produce in the Savanna-la-Mar market, agreed that the fare hike is not unreasonable.
“If it haffi raise, it haffi raise; work the people dem a work,” he argued. “Everybody weh a wuk want money. Di man dem want money,” he said.