Commuters in Santa Cruz can expect an increase in taxi fares from April 1, as drivers say they are trying to keep pace with increased maintenance fees and poor roads.
Speaking with Newsday on Friday, Marlon Khan, the public relations officer of the Santa Cruz Taxi Drivers Association, said a trip from Cantaro to San Juan would cost $8, while Pipiol to San Juan would cost $9, Gasparillo $10 and La Pastora $9 or $12 ,depending on where passengers are picked up.
Khan said the decision to raise the fares by $2 was the culmination of rising fuel prices and costs associated with repairs.
Khan said while he understands the concerns of the public, the Santa Cruz taxi farehas not risen in over two years, and drivers have absorbed the cost of rising fuel prices.
He said without the fare increase,drivers would continue to run at a loss, given the distance and cost of gas.
"We have not increased fares since 2017, so we were absorbing most of the cost.
"The reason for the fare increase is the drivers can no longer absorb the cost because of the cost of repairs we have to do to our vehicles.
"When we calculated it, even on the lower end of the spectrum, it clocks in at about $1.60 per mile, and if you look at the inland revenue tax deductible for commercially operated vehicles, which is $2.87 per mile,we are still falling way short."
Responding to concerns exorressed by the the public on social media, comparing it with the fare of $5 from Port of Spain to San Juan, Khan said the distance from the Santa Cruz taxi stand on Second Street, San Juan to La Pastora, Santa Cruz, was 15.8 miles, which was the equivalent of a full trip from San Juan to Port of Spain and back.
"We don't want the community of La Pastora to think they are being victimised, because they are very angry. These people depend on illegal operators, like the drivers of these white buses.
"But part of the reason for the fare increase is that we have partnered with the councillor and the police. We want to operate a better service to the people. But there is a disproportionate number of legal taxi drivers to unlicensed operators.
"The passengers will choose who they travel with, but it's been really difficult for us, as we have been operating over the past three years by absorbing the cost."