Bus company Putco, has resolved to suspend its fuel-related fare increases that were expected to hit the pockets of commuters from August.
This, as Putco had in July announced that it had no option but to increase fares after its June diesel operations skyrocketed by close to 50%.
Putco provides public transportation throughout Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
Business development executive Matlakala Motloung said commuters were unhappy about the increase, leading to protests outside bus depots in Gauteng recently.
“Commuters have expressed their unhappiness about the impending increase, as such Putco has decided to reach out to government one more time.”
Motloung said Putco would give commuters feedback before August 15 and provide clarity regarding reimbursing passengers who had already bought tickets at a higher amount.
She said Putco was hit hard by the increases in fuel prices, which were affecting public transport operations.
“Diesel accounts for 30% of operating costs; however, in June it skyrocketed close to 50%.”
She said the diesel price had increased substantially from R14.71 in June 2021 to R25.53 in June 2022.
The fuel increases led to the bus operator increasing fare prices from August 1.
The increase would have ranged from R2 for short trips, up to R7 for long trips.
She said the company noted the impact that the increases would have on commuters.
“Putco has been severely affected, absorbing the fuel price increases for many months and it has now become unaffordable.”
She said the government subsidy for public transport had also remained below inflation.
“The bus subsidy allocation decreased from April as fuel prices were skyrocketing.”
Motloung said the government had offered up R1.50 per litre from the general fuel levy as temporary relief to motorists.
She said the relief however did very little to alleviate the burden on public transport operators.
She added that Putco was also in the process of replacing older buses with more fuel-efficient ones as a means to soften the fuel blow further.
The bus industry through the Southern African Bus Operators Association (SABOA) recently urged the government to find long-term solutions to alleviate the high fuel cost burden on public transport operators, said Motloung.
She said the bus industry was still awaiting a workable solution.
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