Fri, 21 Mar 2003

27 percent bus fare increase proposed

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

City Governor Sutiyoso has proposed to increase city bus fares by up to 27 percent from current fares in response to the request made by public transport operators last month.

In his letter to the City Council on Wednesday, Sutiyoso proposed to increase fares for regular buses to Rp 1,150 from Rp 900, for limited express buses to Rp 1,400 from Rp 1,200, and for medium-sized buses to Rp 1,250 from Rp 1,000.

Student fares will remain at Rp 500.

The Organization of Land Transportation Owners (Organda) had earlier proposed a 50 percent increase in bus fares to help bus owners offset the rise in the price of fuel and spare parts since last year.

Sutiyoso planned to make the fare hike proposal earlier this year following the decision of the central government to increase fuel prices, but he delayed the announcement arguing that he needed more time to study the new fares.

On Jan. 1, the government announced a simultaneous increase in fuel prices, electricity rates and telephone charges, causing nationwide protests against the hikes.

The price of premium gasoline was raised from Rp 1,750 per liter to Rp 1,810, and from Rp 1,550 per liter to Rp 1,890 for diesel fuel. The government later cut the diesel price to Rp 1,650.

City Hall spokesman Muhayat said on Thursday that the main issue regarding the tariff increase was that the central government had not implemented its fuel subsidy program for public transportation.

The Indonesian Consumer Foundation (YLKI) earlier criticized the plan to increase fares for public transportation -- which is notorious for their poor service -- while it also urged the government to subsidize the service.

Meanwhile, Chairman of City Council Commission D for development affairs Koeswadi Soesilohardjo said that his faction, together with Commission C for financial affairs, would discuss the governor's proposal on Monday.

He hinted, however, that the Council might agree with the fare increase, saying that bus operators needed the increase to help them to cover their operational costs.

"If the bus operators cannot cover their operational costs, they would become bankrupt, which would, in turn, make people suffer as they would face difficulty in finding public transportation," Koeswadi.

He refused to comment on the figures of the fare increase, saying that they would be discussed along with other councillors.