In a statement today, Mr. Phillips said some operators are having serious difficulty coping with fuel prices, which is now at the highest level the country has ever experienced. “Many are having difficulty while others have resorted to illegal fare increases, burdening commuters, who are also unable to meet any hike in public transport fares,” he said.
The PNP spokesman said, according to reports reaching him, some operators have increased their fares by as much as 100%, as a means of surviving higher fuel rates.
He said this was unacceptable and both the Ministry of Transport and the Transport Authority appear to be impotent in regulating taxi and rural bus operations and are sitting idly while this situation spreads across Jamaica.
Mr. Phillips said he was calling on the Minister of Transport, Hon. Robert Montague, to immediately convene a meeting with public transport sector representatives to work out mechanisms for the survival of the operators and implement strategies for the protection of commuters.
The Shadow Minister said the portfolio Minister needed to bring creativity to bear on this challenging dilemma, as both commuters and operators needed work with each other to save the sector.
Mr. Phillips warned that the Opposition is not in support of any bus and taxi fare increases at this time, with parents facing the expensive back to school period. He said fare increases would represent an additional burden which would be too much to be absorbed in an already limited budget.
The Opposition Shadow Minister said he was also concerned about the situation at the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) as fuel prices are now above the levels on which its budget is predicated. He said it was his information that the company was having serious difficulty in meeting its weekly bill and could default at any time.
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