Tue, 18 Apr 2000

New bus fares to take effect on April 30

JAKARTA (JP): While insisting that bus firms improve their public services, Governor Sutiyoso announced on Monday that the new bus fares will take effect on April 30.

"City administration has thoroughly considered the matter, including residents' ability to pay and the subsidy to be given to bus companies," the governor said in a written statement, which was read by city administration spokesman Muhayat at City Hall.

"We also considered the conditions of the bus companies. That's why I ask the companies to improve their services," he added.

Sutiyoso decided to hike the fares from Rp 300 (4 US cents) to Rp 500 for regular buses, Rp 500 to Rp 700 for minibuses, Rp 2,300 to Rp 2,500 for Patas AC buses, and Rp 100 to Rp 200 for students.

Patas buses will retain their current fare of Rp 700 until the year 2002, when they will have to decide whether they will convert into regular buses or Patas AC buses.

Minivans will also retain existing fares of Rp 1,200 for a trip of 14 kilometers at the longest distance.

Chairman of the Jakarta chapter of the Organization of Land Transportation Owners (Organda), Aip Syarifuddin, said the organization would follow the administration's decision although the amount would not be enough to cover their operational costs.

"We'll obey the decision, although the hike is far from enough to cover our costs.

"We'll factor the hike into calculations to determine our future level of services," he said.

The stance was shared by secretary to Organda's Jakarta chapter Azrul Azis Taba.

"The problem is how we can cover our costs with the new fares. The government has to provide more subsidy to bus companies," Azrul said over the phone.

He lambasted Minister of Industry and Trade Jusuf Kalla's rejection of the proposal to revoke import tax on bus spare parts.

"It's illogical to worry that we'll sell the spare parts to get profits from higher prices when we need them badly," he said.

City records show there are 12,764 minivans, 4,981 minibuses and 5,411 buses operating in the city. It includes 743 inoperable regular buses of the state-owned bus company PPD, 1,083 regular buses, 2,131 Patas buses and 1,454 Patas AC buses.

Apart from the governor's decision, Organda submitted its own proposal.

The proposal would hike regular bus fares to Rp 1,000, minibus to Rp 1,200, Patas fares to Rp 1,550 and Patas AC buses to Rp 3,250. It would also hike student fare to Rp 500.

Organda's proposal received much criticism, as being too expensive for current economic conditions.

The governor's decision was made after the City Council decided last Friday to endorse the hike, while leaving the city administration to set the new fares.

"It's the governor who has the right to set the fares. We only ask that the fare will not cause additional burden to residents," council speaker Edy Waluyo told reporters last Friday.

The decision was similar to Sutiyoso's proposal last July, except for Patas bus which was planned to be abolished.

Head of City Traffic and Land Transportation Agency Buyung Atang said his agency would improve its supervision of city buses.

"We'll revoke a bus' license for violating regulations. We'll also put stricter control on buses," he said, while stating that the agency would impound buses in violation.

Buyung said the city administration had provided a subsidy of more than Rp 12 billion to bus companies by temporarily revoking taxes and fees.

The city administration is to forego some Rp 3.4 billion from vehicle tax and another Rp 8.6 billion of transportation-related fees due to the revocation. The subsidy was given last October and will last until September this year for evaluation purposes. (nvn)