The Fiji Bus Operators Association says while the recent fuel price decrease has given some comfort to operators, it is still a long way from addressing the rising costs of operating bus services.
In the past year, the world price for crude oil was about $USD 70-80 per barrel, which had increased fuel price to about 45 Fijian cents per litre. With the world price now around USD $50, the reduction is only by 8 Fijian cents, says FBOA General Secretary Rohit Latchan.
“This 8 cents per litre reduction in fuel price is a drop in the ocean as it equates to only about a 3.5 per cent decrease and still leaves operators with a huge shortfall,” Latchan said.
Since January last year, there has been on average an increase in costs by about 40 per cent.
Since 2009, there have been no adjustments in bus fares.
“During these 10 years, bus operators have been reasonable and have accommodated the travelling public by absorbing these increased costs of doing business. However, bus operators have now come to a stage that they cannot afford to continue taking on these costs if they are to survive,” Mr Latchan said.
“The current first stage fare is 68 cents, equating to about 11 cents a kilometre. We have asked this before and we are asking yet again: what can one reasonably buy with 68 cents today? Not even a loaf of bread.”
Bus operators are currently working with the Independent Bus Fare Review Committee and the Land Transport Authority to address the issue of bus fares and are hoping for a speedy resolution.