Public Transportation Crumbles Under Fare Increase

Public transportation has new prices. Some services have increased by 1000%, others by 400% and others by 1.250.000%. Will this higher fare price help improve a broken industry? We don’t think so.

Photo: Crónica Uno

Public transportation in Venezuela has been a disaster for the past few years due to inflation and the fact that prices haven’t quite kept up with the cost of spare parts in the market. What used to be a meaningless fare price, has now become a hard financial blow for many Venezuelans. Here’s how the price of public transportation changed.

Short distance route or urban route: 0,1 BsS to 1 BsS

Long distance route or “rural” route: 1 BsS to 4 BsS

Government controlled transport: 0,00004 BsS to 0,5 BsS

Before the rise of prices for public transport, a short distance route was 0,1 BsS. (10.000 BsF.) an insignificant amount of money that would represent 448 BsS. (44.800.000 BsF.) a week for a bus driver. Now, the price has gone up to 1 BsS, while a long distance route equals 4 BsS. (400.000 BsF.). As for government controlled transportation such as El Metro and Metrobus, a single ticket was 0,00004 BsS. (4 BsF.). It’s also worth noting, that for the past four months, these services have been completely free and open to the users, due to lack of maintenance, cash shortage and the fact that one ticket (the paper, the printing, the distribution) costs more than the fare.     

On September 4, non-government controlled transportation prices have increased their fare price by 1000% in short routes; 400%  in long routes; and 1.250.000% for government controlled transport.

Is the fare rise meaningful?

Don Ramon*, who speaks on behalf of a local transport coop, says no.  

“With inflation like it is, I’d need to be able to charge higher prices to keep my buses running. At most, 15% of our vehicles are working right now. When a bus breaks down, we take it apart, to use the parts for other buses, but we’ve done this so many times, we’re at the bottom of the barrel. (…) A tire costs about 2,000,000,000 BsF, a liter of oil is 35,000,000BsF, a single lightbulb goes for 5,000,000BsF, there’s nothing under 500,000, 000BsF.  How can we buy parts with these prices and eat? It’s impossible”.

I contacted Lic. Sharon Muñoz  and Lic. Enyerbe García, employees at Metro de Caracas (government controlled subway system), but neither had comments regarding how the rise of the prices will help improve the quality of the Metro. The subway system needs maintenance and improvements, which requires a lot of investment, but hyperinflation has made it clear that increasing the prices of services will only make it worse.

But, could the rise of fare prices of public transportation make the service better? No, it won’t. Prices keep getting higher and drivers can’t keep up. To improve a service we would first need to repair all the damage that was done. First we have to figure out how to help a wounded industry, to be able to restore a broken service. Only then can the thought of improving them cross our minds.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of the sources.

Alfonso Garmendia

A law and liberal arts student in Caracas, Alfonso likes first aid, animé, manga, philosophy, law and swimming, not necessarily in that order.