Mixed reviews on new bus fare increase

The various bus stops in the city of Roseau were filled with unhappy commuters as March 15, 2023, brought into effect the new bus fare increase.

On the other hand, bus drivers appeared satisfied with the extra earnings.

There is considerable disagreement over the recently approved transportation fare increment. While bus drivers deem the price increase as “reasonable and long overdue,” some passengers argue that the increase was imposed at a time when the cost of living is at an all-time high.

In compliance with Section 3:2(a) of the Vehicles and Road Traffic Act #17 of 1993, the Cabinet of Dominica recently approved the adoption of revised bus fares and taxi rates.

The Dominica Transport Board made submissions to a Cabinet Task Force based on recommendations from the Airport Taxi Operators Association for increased taxi rates for plying the Douglas Charles Airport routes; and from representatives of bus drivers’ associations for increases in fares for buses travelling routes island-wide.

The Transport Board, using the approved schedule of fares of 2008 as a benchmark, recommended increases in bus fares ranging from $1.00 to $1.50 for longer routes from Roseau to communities across the island and $0.25 to $0.75 for shorter routes and inter-villages.

In speaking to a few public transportation users, a small business owner named Ashma contended that the increase is unfair amid the economic downturn.

“Things already so hard in Dominica. Gas price decrease so I don’t understand the need to raise the bus fee. We all feeling the pressure not just bus drivers who the government recently removed the highway levy for. So if there is an increase for them, the government need to do something for us small business owners too.”

A single mother of four who Dominica News Online (DNO) also spoke to said that the fare hike poses additional hardship for people who are low-wage workers.

“Some of us barely making enough to maintain our households so that increase going to hurt our pockets. Some may say it’s just a small increase of 50 cents but I have four children to send to school every day, so that’s an extra $10.00 for the week just in bus.”

She encouraged the government to introduce free public transportation for children of low-income families.

Another disgruntled public transportation user, Pharoah, sees the increase as another economic woe that will make his earnings and movement even more difficult.

“Just now is donkey we have to start back riding because this is ridiculous. Everything going up in that country except for mister salary, ” he lamented.

Mr. George, a resident of Marigot whose daily spending on transportation has increased to $25.00 stated, “we have enough trouble with the rising prices of basic commodities. So, adding an extra amount on transport fares will only increase the poverty in Dominica. People are suffering already that is just an added blow.”

A street vendor was among the very few users of public transportation who expressed support for the increase. However, she encouraged the bus drivers to better maintain their vehicles, especially the interior, to provide  further justification for their fare raise.

“We all trying to make a living so I have no issue with the little increase of 50 cents,” she said. “But what I want to say to the bus drivers is that we the passengers cannot be paying extra to sit on a dirty bus or seats that cutting your foot or clothes. I will be very picky with my extra 50 cents nowadays,” that vendor asserted.

On the other hand, bus drivers argue that the increase is necessary to mitigate rising costs associated with their daily operations.

Oliver, a Mahaut bus driver stated to DNO, “We are making very little money on the road. Everything going up so we, the bus drivers, deserve this raise too.”

According to him, those who oppose the rate hike should take into account the variable cost of fuel and the high cost of vehicle parts.

A Castle Bruce bus driver who insisted that bus operators on the east coast are the most deserving of the bus fare increase posited, “we are labouring for nothing.”

“The road on the east is terrible due to the tropical storm last year. The cost of maintaining our buses, purchasing tires, and other vehicle parts, which is at an all-time high, must be covered by the small income we earn from travel. I like the increase, but I still wish it was higher.”

Bus driver Devin describes the rate increase as “pure nonsense” and explains why he thinks so.

“The prices should be a flat rate,” he said. “Too much 50 cents and 25 cents.  Now we have to be looking for change for people so at the end, some will still end up paying the same price if we don’t have change.”

Understanding the plight of commuters, David is of the view that bus drivers are now left in the difficult position of having a balance between what is affordable for their passengers and what is needed to compensate for unrelenting cost increases across their operations.

“The new prices will put some pressure on poor people, but we too have families to feed and bills to pay,” he argued.

David concluded, “I would encourage all bus drivers to be understanding to people’s situation. If someone really cannot pay the increase one day, just be [understanding]. But, to the people who can afford [it] have some consideration for us too.”

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  1. Stokes, Nancy
    March 17, 2023

    25 years as a tourist we used the buses, the bus drivers were great, and helpful. They deserve a increase, come to Canada, a bus driver will not help you or stop at other places to pick up your parcels, we cannot complain. Yes, their buses could be better, I agree, but what do you want for the little they charge.
    We met so many great Dominicans, sorry to say we cannot return because of health issues and age.
    We had the best bus drivers, cannot say enouth.

  2. Peggy Roberts
    March 17, 2023

    Safety should come first. Bus drivers should ensure buses are safe. Driving too fast on Dominican roads are a big problem. Increase if fees is justified if drivers can give customers safe and comfortable ride
    Also bus drivers could offer a longer service and charge extra during festival time.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
  3. No Increase
    March 17, 2023

    50% of these so-called “passenger buses” should be banned from carrying passengers. Their seats are not probably cushioned for comfort – people sit on cramped iron seats with their knees tucked against the seat in front of them – the doors are very hard to close; most times the drivers have to stretch to reach and close the door. Also, there’s a couple folding seats which have very little cushion on them and are not level or straight to support the passengers back and spine. Last but not least; It’s very uncomfortable for a passenger who wants to board a bus with a bag of groceries. People should be able to travel on a passenger bus in comfort. My opinion is that, we should get rid of all of these small herring box busses to transport our people in comfort. I must point out that, these bus drivers are picking up people who have grass/weed spraying machines and grass cutters with gasoline while they have other passengers on board who are decently and neatly dressed. NO FARE INCREASE.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2
    • Bruno
      March 20, 2023

      Spot on, the vast majority of these bus drivers are as greedy as the CM.

  4. Nonsense That
    March 16, 2023

    Bus men from Fond Cole are too greedy. They want to increase the bus fare from $1.75 to $3.00 for Glassgow. For years now we have been patronizing the bus men by paying $2.00 which is that same 25 cents increased as proposed by the government. There should be no increase in bus fare for us as we have been paying it all along for over 5 years., Some of them say that they going to make plenty money on us. I personally have no problem with walking home and I know others feel the same way. We are definitely not paying $3 to go to Glassgow, Fond Cole. Who vex park your bus inform your house and never move it.

  5. True Patriot At Heart
    March 16, 2023

    EVERYTHING will keep going up except people’s SALARY!! Skerrit and the Labour party is simply the WORST thing to ever happen to Dominica! Maria made less people suffer than this evil tyrant smh. #AllRopeHasAnEnd🙏🏾

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2
  6. Lin clown
    March 16, 2023

    I agree with Tangledweave.After government subsidized the price of gas,they removed the highway levy,they increasing bus fare.That cabinet task force and transport board is BS.They should go,inspect the public service vehicles to make sure passengers can sit comfortable.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2
  7. TangledWeave
    March 16, 2023

    It’s time to nationalize our public transportation.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1
  8. March 16, 2023

    I think the increase was long overdue. It’s very hard to maintain a vehicle on the road these days. A bus traveling from the country with a load of passengers can barely last 1 month on a set of brake pads which cost about $200-$300. But there also need to train the drivers. To many times a bus pass you on the road and you wonder if there are paying passengers onboard or are they riding free. The volume of their music is so loud one wonder if passengers ever complain. Secondly there are too many buses on the road. there need to be a control over the number of buses in each village. And the drivers should undergo training on how to treat their riders.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2
    • Stop It
      March 17, 2023

      @Wallace. I know you my friend and you are a good man from Goodwill. My question to is that, When last have you boarded or traveled on a bus in Dominica. You rarely get on public transportation except for airplanes – How is it that you find yourself commenting on fare increases for bus drivers?

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