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Francis: Unfair to overcharge public

Francis: Unfair to overcharge public

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The strike action called last Monday by the National Omnibus Association (NOBA) to demonstrate their opposition to Government proposals for rate adjustments met with moderate success and seemed to be more effective on the windward side of the mainland than it was in the leeward districts. {{more}}

It was only on Friday, April 8, that Transport and Works Minister Senator Julian Francis publicly urged NOBA at a Cabinet Room Press conference to accept the proposals from Cabinet. He noted that NOBA had held consultations with the Transport Board, which acts as the mediator between government and minibus drivers and which had forwarded a list of proposals to Cabinet. He said that 11 of 19 bus fare proposals submitted had been approved.

He said this approval by Cabinet, which came on Wednesday, April 6, took into consideration not only the minibus drivers, who they said deserve an increase because of rising oil prices, but also the commuters who have to pay the fares.

Senator Francis therefore urged the minibus drivers to accept the rates offered by Cabinet.

The Transport Minister said that to charge the public, in most cases one dollar more for transportation was unfair. He stressed that when commuters are charged an extra dollar, the cost becomes twice the amount since the commuter has to not only go to their destination, but to return home. He pointed out that $15 would become $30 to the traveller.

He lamented that in 1999 new rates were approved, but on implementation the travelling public protested and certain areas never paid the increased rates. It had been suggested then, he said, that the rates be re-enforced but that NOBA was unhappy with the proposal and instead demanded a further increase.

The Transport Minister said that NOBA had become unreasonable in their request since their meeting with the Transport Board was only to discuss the bus fares, not to make the final decision on them. The minister stressed that such a decision only comes from Cabinet.

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