Minibus operators are due for an increase in fares this September, but this decision is not yet cast in stone and will be further ventilated over the comings weeks.
A meeting is scheduled this Friday between Transport Minister Philip J. Pierre, the committee responsible for revising the minibus fares, and other members of the National Council of Public Transportation (NCOPT).
The minister has said that a promise was made to meet regularly with the committee to discuss the minibus fare increase, among other issues.
Asked whether he plans to throw his support behind the increase in minibus fares, Pierre said, “The minister doesn’t deal with bus fares. That is dealt with by a committee. The committee will meet and they will make a decision.”
In keeping with the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act of the Revised Laws of Saint Lucia 2001, the Cabinet of ministers had appointed a committee to review public minibus fares. The committee held its first meeting on September 25, 2012. Since then, the committee has written to the (NCOPT) and other mini-bus associations to submit a formal proposal for the consideration of the committee as required by the legislation.
The NCOPT made a recent pronouncement that a hike is likely to take place, but a specific date was not provided in which this could be rolled out. Minibus associations are lukewarm about the issue. While some believe that a hike is needed at this point, others believe that it could cause severe hardship for many people using public transport.
Some minibus associations cited the economic hardship as a reason why a hike is not possible now. Others, however believe that the fare is substantially low, and an increase should have already taken place.
Some minibus drivers have even suggested that government subsidise the cost of fuel in order to keep the fare at the current rate.
Members of the public have also expressed their dissatisfaction at a decision to increase minibus fares.