PTSC: No plan to raise bus fares

If everything else is “going up,” PTSC bus commuters are still safe from fare hikes—so far.

Although the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) hasn’t had a fare increase in 26 years and depends on an 80 per cent subsidy from the Government, there’s no intention to consider raising fares, PTSC chairman Edwin Gooding has assured.

Gooding did so yesterday when PTSC managers were interviewed by Parliament’s Joint Select Committee (JSC) on Land and Physical Infrastructure. This examined the bus transport system’s efficiency.

Gooding said fare hikes were mentioned in PTSC’s strategic plan—yet to be approved by the Works Ministry—but justifying fare hikes isn’t a topic before PTSC now.

He said the fact that PTSC hasn’t had a fare hike in 26 years must be faced “head on.” He felt commuters were willing to pay an extra dollar or two, provided PTSC was on time. But he also noted PTSC had lost passengers to maxi taxis. Gooding acknowledged service must be improved. He said main routes were being reinstated and shuttles added along Priority Bus Route areas.

JSC member Nigel de Freitas said increasing fares didn’t make sense if PTSC didn’t give the data it needs to make the company efficient. “It’s no reason to increase fares by saying PTSC hasn’t had a fare hike in 26 years,” he said.

PTSC officials said the company has been operating on an 80 percent subsidy from the Government.

Garth Alexander (Engineering) said PTSC’s current operational bus total is 360. The total in January was 215 due to challenges with parts and foreign exchange. The number will be increased by 35 new buses next month and a further 30 in September.

Gooding said, “We’re seeing some light at the end of the tunnel with the new buses. There are far-flung areas we’re not providing service for. We’ll be reinstating those services.”

PTSC has a 60 percent level concerning “Missed Trips” due to low availability of buses, said Lalitha Bala Cetty (Operations). This will be improved with the new buses.

Gooding said PTSC pays maxi taxis $57million to transport students annually. Regular meetings are being held with the Education Ministry for needs— reviews of the system.

Acting general manager Brian Juanette said there had been instances of student buses not being filled to capacity, but there had been a “misunderstanding” on the matter and 71 percent of capacity was average.

Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Gail Alexander)

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