TAXI and BUS fAREs to go up again soon

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

Commuters are in for a shock as bus and taxi operators brace themselves for fare increases following the ever-rising fuel price hikes.

The latest increase, which took effect at midnight yesterday, saw petrol rise by an average 50c a litre, while diesel went up by 72c. This is the sixth increase since the beginning of the year, and before last night's increase diesel had already crossed the R10 a litre mark.

"This is a terrible situation and is having a major impact on commuters.

"Most of the operators have implemented fare increases of up to 10 percent in line with inflation," said Southern African Bus Operators Association (Saboa) spokesman Eric Cornelius.

Cornelius said Saboa had held a meeting with the Department of Transport last week to see whether they could help by increasing their subsidy, though the contract allows subsidies to be increased yearly.

One of the country's largest bus companies, Putco, said yesterday that they had already sent out notices informing their commuters about the increases.

"We are allowed to implement increases only once a year and we have been absorbing costs for the past three years instead of passing them on to the consumer.

"We have now decided to increase fares by four percent due to the high fuel and maintenance costs," said Putco spokesman Raphiri Matsaneng.

Johannes Choeu, owner of the JR Choeu bus company which operates in and around Ekurhuleni, said the petrol price increases were affecting his customers, most of whom could not afford the rises.

"We call upon the government to subsidise the taxi industry. The cost of running the business has been rigid and we're forced to consider increasing fares by bigger margins," National Taxi Alliance secretary-general Alpheus Mlalazi said.

Department of Transport spokesman Collen Msibi said the issue of subsidising the taxi industry related to the recapitalisation programme which seeks to regulate the industry.

The general-secretary of the South African National Taxi Council, Phillip Taaibosch, said though not all operators paid tax, the taxi industry was in the tax net. The subsidy issue was long overdue.