Taxi operators and the Transport Authority that regulates them are at a deadlock over what fare should be charged on the route from Kellits in Clarendon to Linstead in St. Catherine.
The cab drivers, who protested yesterday and this morning, are not satisfied with the Authority’s stipulation for them to charge no more than $300, including the 15 percent fare increase that took effect island-wide this month.
The Authority recently published the figure, stunning several commuters who, for years, unknowingly were paying more than the fare that had been approved.
They were being charged $350, which later was increased to $380. Some drivers, within the last few months, also started to charge $400.
Those fares were illegal and were increased without approval, according to Corporate Communications Manager at the Transport Authority, Petra-Kene Williams.
She explained: “The Transport Authority has that route [Kellits to Linstead] on its system since 2013 and the [approved] fare at that time up to this week was $250… When the increase [that took effect this month] is applied to that $250, the new fare would be $300. That’s the fare. Apparently, the operators had been charging in excess of the fare, and we at the Authority have to work with what is prescribed.”
In calculating fares on routes across the island, the Transport Authority uses a base rate ($95), which is added to the per kilometre rate ($5.50 for each kilometre on the route).
“Based on the information I have received from two different departments at the Transport Authority – our operations and research departments, the kilometre for that route [from Kellits to Linstead] is 37 kilometres,” Williams said.
She stated that the only basis on which an approved fare can be reviewed is if there is discrepancy regarding the length of a route. “If there is a discrepancy with the mileage, then we can reconsider,” Williams said.
She also indicated that enough checks were made regarding the mileage of the route in question after the Transport Authority received a complaint from the cabbies’ association.
Some of the taxi operators, in the meantime, have urged the Transport Authority to visit the area and check the distance again.
“They should come and measure up the road and see how much is the right fare,” said a taxi-man, Christopher Rose, who also lamented what he considers to be relatively high prices for motor vehicle parts and fuel.
Another cabby, Dane McLean, said the taxi drivers are not willing to settle for less than $400. He stated that, when all expenses are considered, that would be a reasonable fare.
“Wi did want more, but, if wi get $400, wi would be comfortable with it…” he told The Beacon. “The $300 cannot work out.”
He noted that the route from Kellits to Linstead is traditionally a bus one. “It long and bad,” McLean emphasized.
He also reasoned that a number of the cabbies are not driving their own vehicles, and so have to earn for themselves and the vehicle owners.
In amplifying their concerns, the taxi operators protested yesterday, August 20, at the section of the route known as British Gate. While doing so, they cooked and feasted.
They used rocks and car rims to block the road every now and then, adamant that none of their colleagues would have been allowed to pass.
The protest resumed this morning in the said location along the route.
Several commuters have been left stranded.
The Transport Authority has urged them to inform it about any taxi operator who illegally charges more than the $300 that has been approved.
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