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April 17, 2014
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Number of Subte passengers equals 2005 figure

There are fewer passengers but the subway is still very crowded during rush hour.

City Hall celebrates increase in 2013 but that is compared to low 2012 statistics

Although City Hall’s authorities celebrated a seven percent increase in the number of Subte passengers in 2013 compared to the previous year when they first took control of the service, the underground commuter flow last year was not greater than in 2005 when much less infrastructure was operative and the Subte Line H did not exist.

According to Transport Regulation National Committee (CNRT) statistics, in the 2013 January-November period the number of Subte passengers reached 232.8 million while in the same period eight years earlier, the total was in 232 million. This 11-month gap is used because December 2013 data is not available.

Buenos Aires Subways (SBASE) head Juan Pablo Piccardo, in charge of the public firm that regulates underground concessions, described the seven percent raise registered in 2013 as a result of the firm’s successful transport policy.

“In 2013, Subte balances showed 252 million passengers, seven percent more than last year due to the opening of new stations and the additional convoys we put into circulation”, Piccardo suggested.

As Chequeado.com explained, the PRO aide’s statement on 2013 numbers is true when contrasted with 2012 statistics. But the City spokesman missed the point, or at least failed to clarify, that 2012 was the worst year for subway earnings when considering the number of tickets sold.

Between 2011 and 2012, there was a 23.8 percent drop in the number of subway commuters, the largest reduction in a 20-year comparison, from 310 million to 236 million listed by CNRT in its database.

A smaller number in CNRT files would require going back to 2003 when only 209 million tickets were sold. Nevertheless, 2012 persists as the worst interlude in the last decade, placing a question-mark on its legitimacy as a reliable point of comparison for Piccardo’s statement.

City Hall’s management

On January 2012, the BA City government raised the Subte fare from 1.10 pesos to 2.50 pesos after signing a transfer accord with the national government. Later, Mayor Mauricio Macri tried to revoke the commitment unless the Kirchnerite administration handed him the financial resources which had been destined to subway subsidies for years.

“The national government had reduced subsidies by 50 percent and we were compelled to raise the fare. City Hall can’t by itself take on 10 years of disinvestment”, Macri told the press during a news conference in which he also asked publicly for a meeting with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

“If the national government decides to transfer it to us (the funding), then the fare will be modified”.

After a long squabble between National and City officials, the PRO administration finally kept the subway under its wing and decided on a new fare increase last year, when the underground ticket reached 3.50 pesos.

A new rise is expected in the next few months, SBASE announced recently, if PRO succeeds in its idea of establishing a staggered scheme depending on the number of journeys per month which could see the most expensive ticket jump to 5 pesos.

For the breakaway AGTSyP subway workers union, that strategy is erroneous if benefitting frequent passengers is the real goal behind the policy.

“The discounts they are proposing are not significant enough for users. The ideal model would be using season tickets, like in other countries, so you can establish different prices”, AGTSyP head Néstor Pianelli charged.

“It’s clear that the logic they apply to their decisions is not the one you should use when running a public service”.

Last year, Mayor Macri faced fierce resistance from subway workers unions during the unveiling of two new stations for Line B called Esteban Echeverría and Juan Manuel de Rosas, the ones Piccardo highlighted as part of the PRO administration’s achievements. Back then, some PRO aides pointed out the workers strike’s convenient timing, close to PASO primaries in which one of the workers union leader, Claudio Dellecarbonara, was even an opposition candidate for the Workers’ Leftist Front.

The AGTSyP union’s spokesmen, on the other hand, accused Macri of rushing the opening of both stations to gain an electoral boost without considering worker and traveller safety. Basic security conditions, they emphasized then, were not guaranteed.

Herald staff with online media

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