by Curlan Campbell
- National Bus Association maintains increase in bus fare across the board necessary to ensure their survival
- Initial suggestion for increase in bus fare was $1.50
- 2005 was last time increase in bus fare was negotiated with government
The National Bus Association maintains that a 50¢ increase in bus fare across the board is necessary to ensure their survival as the island slowly recovers following lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Although the association agrees that the hike in price comes at a difficult period, the association’s president, Garth Woodroffe, during a press conference held on Monday, 1 June said the increase is long overdue, especially taking into consideration the expectation that bus operators must carry significantly fewer passengers in accordance with the Covid-19 regulation for bus operators. “We proposed that 50¢ increase because it would help immediately with the financial loss that we would face since under the regulation we would of have to carry [fewer] passengers, and under this regulation here it is really 8 passengers, that’s more than a 50% cut each trip,” he said.
A meeting is set for Tuesday, 2 June 2020, between the National Bus Association and the Transport Board within the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, Public Utilities, Energy, Transport and Implementation, to decide if the increase will take effect. Woodroffe said a favourable outcome is expected that will ultimately decide whether or not buses will resume operations on the nation’s roads. “I pray we have good news. We want to get back out to work…from tomorrow we are asking all buses to show a stand of unity and we will stay home.”
2005 was the last time an increase in bus fare was negotiated with government, in keeping with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in 2002 that prices be reviewed every 2 years. Since then, Woodroffe said, the cost of living has significantly increased while bus fares remain stagnant. He advocates that as operators of privately owned buses, the hands of the association should not be tied when it comes to determining an increase in bus fare. “Buses in Grenada are privately owned; it is a private investment. Our hands cannot be tied as to what we can charge or cannot charge based on supply and demand afforded to us.”
The association said the financial hardship faced by bus operators has been further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, therefore, it is now necessary to have that price increase to ensure the viability of their business. Woodroffe pointed to the fact that the initial suggestion for an increase in bus fare by the association was $1.50 based on their operating expenses, but was reduced to 50¢ after further consultation.
As the association prepares for Tuesday’s meeting with the Transport Board, Woodroffe has called on bus operators not yet registered with the association to do so since the fee will be waived. The association is also requesting that they have representation from one of their members on the Transport Board. Other matters to be ironed out with the Transport Board is the clarification of conflicting information on seating arrangements for buses plying the various routes, and to discuss the underpayment made to those 30 bus operators who assisted the Ministry of Health transport essential workers during the lockdown.
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