Bus operators are reportedly disgruntled over the cost of fuel and the continued increase in the cost of living.
Although the price of fuel has been reduced at the pump, the bus men say they continue to struggle – even with the subsidy they received in April.
In early September, the $16.57-a-gallon price of gasoline was reduced by $1.03, which means motorists are now paying $15.54 per gallon.
But sources tell REAL News that the value of the gasoline and diesel vouchers the bus drivers received was not increased – not even when the prices went up locally and on the world market. And although the price of gasoline has been adjusted downwards since then, it has not been reduced for diesel.
Motorists who operate diesel vehicles have been paying $16.79 since July, when the price dropped by 46 cents.
Bus operators say their struggle is harder due to the continued rise in inflation. Not only do they have families to support, and not only have food prices gone up, but vehicle parts have also seen a price hike, they say. Accordingly, their operating costs have risen.
A source says that members of the East Bus Station Association met with Transport Board officials to address their concerns. Reportedly, they were told there is nothing the Board can do; so operators will have to make out with what they are now receiving.
Board officials reportedly added that the Cabinet would have to be involved in any decision to increase the subsidy, and this could take some time.
However, according to the source, operators at the East Bus Station are prepared to stand up so that the subsidy can be reviewed.
Meanwhile, given that the cost of living continues to rise, an operator says it is unfair that bus drivers are expected to hold the strain when they have not had a fare increase in 15 years.
Under the voucher system, the Government was underwriting a 25% reduction in fuel costs to legitimate bus and taxi operators. Reportedly, bus drivers were promised a weekly maximum of 50 gallons, while 40 gallons were to be allotted to taxi drivers.
Under this system, operators are able to redeem their fuel vouchers at three service stations.