Passengers will be faced with a fare increase by the end of this year as a new price list has already been set by the National Council on Public Transportation (NCOPT) and is likely to take effect on December 27.
NCOPT President Godfrey Ferdinand has said the decision was made to increase the minibus fares after a meeting was held with its members recently.
The increase was set at: $0.25 cents for short drops, $0.50 to $0.75 cents for medium road drops (example, Castries to Dennery) and $1 for long road drops (example, Castries to Vieux Fort.) The NCOPT plans to submit a formal correspondence of its decision to the Minister of Transport Phillip J. Pierre. Ferdinand said it will be left up to the drivers to implement it.
Ferdinand admitted that some minibus drivers are not in favour of the increase while others are.
He said: “They don’t have to implement it. They can take a vote and decide that they don’t want it in a particular route, but legally it would be in the fares.”
While some believe that a hike is needed, others believe that it is not necessary at this point. Some minibus drivers have already suggested that government subsidise the cost of fuel in order to keep the fare at the current rate.
The St. Lucia Consumer Affairs Association had also raised concerns over the increase, saying it could affect the poor population on the island. The organisation finds that there are no justifiable reasons for an increase and said they will make representation for the general public.
The NCOPT, along with various minibus associations, met with Minister Pierre Friday last and reminded the members of the economic situation on the island. He also urged them to make a collective sacrifice not to increase the minibus fares, while commending them for the role they played thus far in helping to keep the minibus fares stable.
However, a unanimous decision was made on the fare increase and will be officially changed, no later than December 27. The last minibus fare increase was in 2008.