Sat, 04 Jan 2003

Public bus fares to increase

Ahmad Junaidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The City Land Transportation Owners Association (Organda) says it will propose increasing bus fares due to the fuel price rises.

"We will discuss increasing fares and will submit the proposal to the governor soon," Organda chief Aip Syaifuddin told reporters after meeting with City Transportation Agency officials.

Aip said it was seeking the increase mainly because of the increase of automotive diesel fuel, used by almost all public buses.

He said the last bus fare increase of about 14 percent in May last year was set when automotive diesel fuel cost Rp 1,250 per liter.

"We did not increase the fares when the government increased the fuel price from Rp 1,250 to Rp 1,550 in August last year," Aip said.

He said the fare increase was needed to avoid more bus companies going broke and to support the maintenance of the current, elderly fleet of 9,000 buses.

The central government decided on Thursday to raise the cost of automotive diesel to Rp 1,890 per liter from Rp 1,550, and premium gasoline to Rp 1,810 per liter from Rp 1,750.

However, during Friday's meeting, the City Transportation Agency and Organda agreed not to increase the fares without the city administration's approval.

"We will revoke the bus operators' permits if they are found to have arbitrarily increased fares," agency head Rustam Effendy told reporters.

The meeting was also attended by Kopaja bus cooperative chairman Putu Wirta Antara, Mayasari bus company owner Mahfudz and Metromini bus company director Thomas Silaen.

On Friday, bus fares in several routes in the city remained the same.

A driver for Perisai Bangsa Taxis said he did not know if taxi tariffs would be increased. Most taxis use premium gasoline.

According to procedure, Organda will submit its proposal to the governor, who would then hand the proposal to the City Council. The later will later discuss the proposal with the transportation agency and the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) before it is again placed before the governor.

Separately, City Governor Sutiyoso rejected suggestions the administration subsidize public transportation with the city's emergency funds which currently total Rp 500 billion.

"It has been decided that our emergency funds should be used for natural disasters or helping people eat," Sutiyoso told reporters at City Hall on Friday.

He said the administration would use the funds if staple food prices skyrocketed out of the reach of the people due to the fuel price hikes.

The City Economic Affairs Office predicted on Thursday that the prices of staple foods, such as rice, vegetable oil, beef, chili and onions, would increase by at least five percent due to the increases.

The food price increases was attributed mainly to the costs of delivery.

The central government also increased electricity tariffs and telephone rates.