Four months after Government implemented a 75 per cent increase in bus fares, taxi operators are now saying that they too want an increase.
This afternoon chairman of Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT), Roy Raphael told Barbados TODAY that his organisation will be making this proposal to Government “very shortly”. He argued that with the issue of bus fares settled, it was time to turn attention to taxis, who were equally feeling the pinch in these harsh economic times.
Remaining tight-lipped on the actual percentage of the increase, Raphael explained that recent measures by Government has resulted in significant increases in the cost of doing business and it is therefore imperative that taxis increase their fees.
“The percentage increase is going to be based on the distance, but I don’t want to state publicly what we are looking at because the proposal has not yet gone to the relevant authorities. However, I can give the assurance to the public that we will be pushing for that increase very soon,” said Raphael.
In their rationale for fare increase, Raphael explained that taxi operators were concerned about the tax on fuel, which replaces the road tax as well as the cost of transferring a permit from one vehicle to the next.
“Before the cost of transferring a permit from one vehicle to another was one dollar, now this has gone up to $1000 and the taxi operators are not happy about this. They are not at all pleased and when you take that with the fuel tax, we are really left with no choice,” said Raphael.
In June last year, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) delivered on its election campaign promise to abolish the road tax and replace it with a fuel tax effective July 1, 2018
The fuel tax is levied at a rate of 40 cents per litre of petrol, 40 cents per litre of diesel and five cents per litre of kerosene. This represents a net increase on gas and diesel of 28 cents per litre. At the time Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley expressed serious concern about the amount of money minibus, taxi and route taxi operators said they would now be paying with the fuel tax in place.
“A man who drives a minibus under the current arrangement is spending $14,000 more annually, while a ZR operator after taking into consideration the waiving of road tax is spending over $8,000 more a year, and a ZM operator over $5,000 more,” he said.
According to current rates, passengers have to pay $50 from the airport to Bridgetown, and $70 from Bridgetown to Speightstown. From anywhere in Bridgetown to the port is $10. The last time operators got an increase was back in 2007.
This afternoon, Raphael told Barbados TODAY that the situation is being compounded by an overcrowding of the sector.
“There are simply too many taxis out there. There are over 2350 taxis and I understand that more are to join us very shortly. We have a situation where many are parked in Fairchild Street, opposite the terminal and police constantly have to remove them. When we meet with the Ministry of Transport shortly, we will put in a proposal for a new space for taxis,” he stressed.