Mon, 10 Apr 2000

Expert supports bus fare increase

JAKARTA (JP): An expert on transportation engineering says he supports bus owners' demand to increase fares immediately, but has suggested the government share the burden through a subsidy.

Alan Marino from the University of Indonesia (UI) said on Sunday that it would be unfair to put the burden of fare increases solely on passengers because they would not receive better services for the extra amount they paid.

"The fare increase is needed merely to keep the transportation business keep running.

"It would be unfair for passengers to bear the full fare increase, while they will not enjoy improved bus services," he told The Jakarta Post.

"In this case, there is no other way but for the government to intervene in the matter by providing a subsidy," he said.

Alan, a lecturer in UI's civil engineering department, said the present fare of Rp 300 for regular buses, Rp 500 for minibuses and the Rp 100 student fare were no longer reasonable compared to the increasing operational expenditure of bus companies.

He said that under such a condition, it would be impossible to expect better public bus services.

"That's why I support the bus owners' demand for fare increases," he said.

Alan said there should be research done on people's purchasing power prior to a making decision on fare increases.

"In this matter, the ratio between the people's expenses on transportation and their income should be calculated and taken into consideration to decide on new fares," he said.

The Jakarta chapter of the Organization of Land Transportation Owners (Organda) has repeatedly demanded that bus fares be increased, saying bus owners could no longer cover their operational costs with their income from the current bus fares.

The owners have announced they will go on strike on Monday to press for fare increases.

The organization has proposed that the fare for regular buses be increased to Rp 1,000 from Rp 300, minibuses to Rp 1,200 from Rp 500, limited passenger Patas buses to Rp 1,550 from Rp 700 and Patas AC buses to Rp 3,250 from Rp 2,300.

While student fares were proposed to increase from Rp 100 to Rp 500.

Organda executives have repeatedly promised that they would eventually improve services if fares were increased.

However, Alan said he did not believe Organda could fulfill its promise.

He said low fares were not the only factor affecting services, saying poor infrastructure and the existing transportation system also contributed to the problem.

"Under such conditions, service improvement would cost a lot, while fare increases cannot cover the cost for such improvement," he said. (ind)