Fury as op­er­a­tor hikes bus fares 9%

Com­muters threaten to dump Golden Ar­row

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - VUYO MABANDLA

COM­MUTERS are fu­ri­ous with Golden Ar­row Bus Ser­vices for hik­ing their fares by 9 per­cent at the beginning of the month.

This means a com­muter catch­ing a bus on the Cape Flats would have to pay up to R19 to get to the the city cen­tre, or nearly R18 from Som­er­set West or Blou­berg.

Golden Ar­row ini­tially wanted a 10.4 per­cent in­crease, which the pro­vin­cial trans­port depart­ment re­fused to ap­prove.

Golden Ar­row spokesman Vuy­isile Mdoda said: “Con­sid­er­ing fair­ness to tax­pay­ers and com­muters, we de­cided to set­tle on 9 per­cent.”

But com­muters, many cash­strapped af­ter the hol­i­days, said the hike was way too high.

Some threat­ened to stop us­ing buses and use taxis in­stead, as it cost R12.50 for a trip from Khayelit­sha to the city. Oth­ers said they would switch to trains.

An­gry pas­sen­gers at the bustling Cape Town bus ter­mi­nus on the Grand Pa­rade told Week­end Ar­gus that the hikes were “an ob­vi­ous rip-off ”.

Manelisi Sih­langu of Nkanini in Khayelit­sha had been pay­ing R312 for his monthly clip card ticket to and from Cape Town, but now his fare had in­creased by R41 to R353.

“It is way too high. Last year they in­creased the fares too much and now they’re do­ing it again.

“They’re bul­ly­ing us with th­ese prices, it’s not fair.”

Belinda Mar­shalls of Park­lands said she now had to pay R70 for her weekly ticket, up from R65.

“The new prices are clearly de­signed to hit us hard. The R5 makes a huge dif­fer­ence. Golden Ar­row is rip­ping us off.”

But Mdoda said the in­crease was “nec­es­sary and un­avoid­able, as we have to keep our fleet in per­fect con­di­tion”.

“The fare ad­just­ment is made to cover the in­creases in labour, main­te­nance and the cost of spares.

“It is im­per­a­tive that we in­crease our fares if we are to main­tain a proper stan­dard of ser­vice.

“But as al­ways, we con­sider our com­muters’ in­ter­ests be­fore we make de­ci­sions.

“From the 250 000 pas­sen­gers that use our ser­vice ev­ery day, we have re­ceived only 10 com­plaints.”

But com­muters said the in­crease was “baf­fling” when the ser­vice was “poor”.

A woman, who gave her name only as Michelle, said the buses ser­vic­ing her Mitchells Plain neigh­bour­hood were “of­ten in bad shape”.

When it rained, wa­ter would leak through gaps above the win­dows.

How­ever, Mdoda dis­agreed, say­ing the fleet was al­ways “up to stan­dard”.

He said should the price of fuel rise sig­nif­i­cantly dur­ing the year, a fur­ther fare in­crease would be sought.

“How­ever, at this stage we are not in po­si­tion to de­ter­mine how much we will ne­go­ti­ate for.”

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