More pain for commuters with Metrorail price hike
Cape Town - Metrorail is set to increase national train fares as soon as next month, the Passenger Rail Agency (Prasa) said on Thursday.
"We have not put out any figures yet because we are finalising consultations with stakeholders [commuter organisations and forums] and customers," spokesperson Lawrence Venkile said.
"We want consultation to run its course."
Consultation sessions were likely to wrap up at the weekend. The increase could take effect as early as April 1, although this would vary between regions.
The size of the increase would also depend on the region, Venkile said.
Organisations and civil bodies were being presented with a variety of increase models, with the most obvious being to take on the full increase at once.
Another option was to have a graded increase over a period of time. Increasing the number of travelling zones was also an option, as commuters would pay more the further they went.
Cosatu in the Western Cape expressed outrage over the increase.
Provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said he was advised of a 27% increase for the province, effective from April 1.
"Cosatu cannot accept this as it would have a devastating impact on commuters, many of whom already live on the breadline. Cosatu has called for a detailed process of engagement to explore alternatives to this huge increase," he said.
Cosatu planned to serve a notice to strike against fare increases should it not receive a reply from Metrorail by Friday.
Ehrenreich said he was hoping the City of Cape Town and the provincial government would engage with him on finding "lasting solutions".
Western Cape Transport MEC Robin Carlisle was also opposed to the "unacceptable" increase, and proposed that it be dropped to a single digit figure.
"Although there had been no increases in fares from 2003 to 2010, Metrorail’s planned 27% increase for 2012, added to 2011’s 33% increase, meant there would be an effective 60% rise in fares in just two years."
Carlisle said an increase was not justified as Metrorail offered, in his eyes, an extremely poor service.
He proposed implementing small increases, below the inflation rate, annually. Commuters should be informed well before time to plan their finances, he said.