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October 20, 2014
Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bus fares rise 20%, double in six months

*Prices listed in pesos

Basic trip to cost 3 pesos from today

Bus fares in the Buenos Aires City metropolitan region are rising as much as 23 percent today, an unexpected increase that was unveiled yesterday in the Official Gazette. When combined with an increase earlier this year, it means that bus fares in the capital and its suburbs have as much as doubled in just over six months.

A basic fare for a bus ride no longer than three kilometres will cost three pesos as of today, up slightly from yesterday’s 2.50 pesos, and significantly higher than the 1.50 it cost commuters from July 1, 2013 through to the first day of this year, when it rose again by 66 percent to 2.50. For those people travelling without a Sube card, the fare is also rising 20 percent — from five pesos, payable only in coins, to six pesos.

In real terms, the hike means passengers are paying more for a three-kilometre bus ride than what they would have for a 27-kilometre journey this time last year. It is also the first time the government increases fares twice in a 12-month period.

The government justified the decision, noting that transport workers sealed an annualized 28-percent pay increase with the private sector. Yet it also comes at a time when the government is attempting to cut back on certain subsidies, particularly those that benefit the wealthy as well as the poor.

Untouched, yesterday’s resolution emphasized, are the fares for school students and children, while the 40-percent discount for retirees and pensioners, domestic workers, Universal Child Allowance (AUH) and pregnancy allowance recipients, and Malvinas War veterans will also remain in place. As of today, their standard bus fare will cost 1.80 pesos.

In a move that would benefit those who live further away, the increases are smaller for the longer trips.

A three- to six-kilometre journey is jumping 20 percent from 2.70 pesos to 3.25 and 6.50 in coins, while a six- to 12-kilometre trip is rising from 2.85 pesos to 3.50 and seven pesos in coins. But those who take journeys of 12 to 27 kilometres, the increase is only 2.6 percent, rising from 3.90 pesos to four and eight with coins, and the 27-kilometre or more trip is increasing 4.4 percent from 4.50 pesos to 4.70 and 9.20 in coins.

The government said one of its “central objectives is maintaining reasonable fares,” a position echoed by Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich who yesterday told reporters that the administration was trying to “equate” the cost with others cities in the country.

“Until now, passengers in Buenos Aires province pay higher fares for the same distances than commuters in the city,” Capitanich said.

The government has hinted throughout the year at the possibility of wide-spread subsidy cuts to a range of sectors, including the heavily-subsidized public transport sector, which this year was assigned 994 million pesos for the BA metropolitan area and 488 for provincial services, equivalent to a 5.5-peso subsidy per basic fare for services in national government jurisdiction.

Criticism

Quick to denounce the decision was a well-known name when it comes to public transport policies, lawmaker for MST-New Left party, Alejandro Bodart, who earlier this year tried to block a decision by the City government to raise subte underground fares from 3.50 to 4.5.

“Cristina Kirchner, just like (BA City Mayor) Mauricio Macri, works for companies and against commuters,” he charged, saying “for this reason, just as we did with the subte, tomorrow (today) we’ll be filing an injunction request to stop this new fare hike.”

Herald staff with Télam, DyN

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