NCOPT Holds ‘Fruitful’ Meeting With King, But No Fare Promises Made

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On Sunday, the National Council on Public Transportation (NCOPT) concluded what council President Godfrey Ferdinand described as a very cordial and fruitful meeting with Transport Minister, Stephenson King, to discuss problems affecting minibus operators.

However, Ferdinand said the Minister made no promises but had to present the issues raised by the NCOPT executive to the Cabinet of Ministers.

“I find that the Minister was very open and honest in his responses,” the NCOPT President told St Lucia Times.

“He didn’t make any promises, but he did say that he would work for both the public and the bus sector to benefit from the present situation,” Ferdinand explained.

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The situation to which Ferdinand referred pertains to the rising cost of fuel and the surge in operational expenses bus operators are experiencing.

He said the NCOPT executive also discussed concessions, bus fares, the upgrade of the bus sector, disciplinary issues, and other matters at the meeting with King.

But Ferdinand explained that the rising cost of fuel was a pressing issue.

“Government has two options – one is to give us an increase to defer that or give us a rebate. Obviously that has to be a cabinet conclusion – whether they are going to allow a bus fare increase or continue with exemptions and rebates,” the NCOPT official told St Lucia Times.

 The meeting with the Transport Minister preceded a planned session with the NCOPT General Council comprising representatives of all affiliated bus associations.

Ferdinand expressed the hope that, in addition to the Transport Minister, Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre, responsible for Finance, would attend.

“It looks like this meeting will be some time next week. We have to confirm the day and time,” the NCOPT President stated.

According to Ferdinand, if the majority favour a bus fare increase at the general council meeting, the NCOPT will pursue that option with the current administration.

“If the majority say we can wait for one year for the increase and wait for the different approaches the government wants to take as well as us, because I believe bus fares should be done in a way that is very clear and precise,” he stated.

Based on his experience in the sector, Ferdinand said the Ministry of Finance had calculated fares based on inflation, operational costs, and other factors.

“We are just requesting for the government to put that into motion and let’s work together,” Ferdinand stated.

 Headline photo: (L to R) Godfrey Ferdinand & Stephenson King

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Editorial Staff
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2 COMMENTS

  1. The mini bus owners/operators need to get serious and understand that the government will never provide a solution to their problems. They must seek to address those identified problems. Transportation is not a nickel and dime industry and should not be treated as such. Even the government doesn’t understand the scope of the industry. The industry will not grow because fare increases are granted; it will grow, only if owners/operators understand the growth potential of the industry and take measures to pursue that path. This is a multi-million dollar industry and it should be treated as such. Bus fare increases will not make it so. Owners/operators must make their investment work in their interest. They pay millions of dollars in annual Insurance payments with zero returns. They pay Route band charges to a government which doesn’t own a bicycle to take one on a trip around the square. Government might have been a legitimate claimant if it had at least one (scheduled) bus on each route; but it doesn’t. Owners/operators are providing a service that the government cannot provide and the Route band fees/charges are ridiculous. Those buses are licensed and insured to carry passengers and that is what they do. My recommendation to owners/operators is to get advice on the formation of a Co-operative Insurance where, as share holders, they will benefit from their investment and help take the industry to the next level where they will be better able to survive the shocks of fuel increases. If that path is followed, both owners and commuters will benefit.

  2. from time gas raise you bus drivers ready to strike and call for increase but yall not complaining the increase of the rum at the bars. if fares have to be increased why is it when the price of oil goes down that the things that have raised be brought down as well? if they do raise the bus fare by 25 cents due to the increase in oil and gas i believe it is also fare that when the oil and gas goes down at a good rate that these price hikes should also be adjusted to a lowered fare. To many times they raise prices and then they just leave it at that price and wait for another increase and say hey look oil going up we have to raise things again.

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