MAXI taxi fares for heavily used transport routes along the East-West Corridor will rise come November 1.
On Wednesday, president of the Route Two Maxi Taxi Association Linus Phillip confirmed that direct fares for La Horquetta, Maloney, Sangre Grande and Arima maxi taxis will rise by $2, from $8 to $10. Short drop fares will rise by $1.
Phillip said the association believes the price rise is fair to both operators and passengers.
He said drivers have not been able to pay their insurance, buy parts, or properly maintain their maxi taxis since the beginning of the pandemic, which led to a drastic reduction in the number of passengers per trip.
Reactions from commuters at City Gate in Port of Spain were mixed.
Told about the price rise and reasons given by Phillip, a San Juan man who did not want to be identified said, “I understand what the president is saying, you know, but they are putting pressure on the wrong side.
“You need to put pressure on the government. At the end of the day, you can’t have a government do things such as allow cement and other industries to be monopolised, so whenever they decide to, they are going to hike the prices or make things scarce. Everybody must feel the burden. Government officials are not going to feel the burden...they don't have to travel," he said.
“My question is why and why now?” said another man. “Gas and insurance gone up so much that they have to raise the fare to $10, or are they just trying to make profit on people head?
“I understand maxi men have to hustle, but $10? This government needs to implement a proper, functioning mass-transit system, because this is nonsense.”
A woman said the current $8 fare was hard enough and this increase will only make things worse. I haven’t gotten a raise in two years…just now we go can’t afford to eat. Everything raising except salaries," she complained.
Others, however, felt the increase was fair, saying maxi taxi drivers were also affected by the pandemic.
“Honestly, I don't give them wrong. The maxis already going at (reduced capacity) for the longest while. They are running at a loss also. Most of them working the maxis for other people. I also think we can utilise the bus (service). It's really not that bad. Well, I haven't been in one recently, but I heard it's fine,” a male commuter.
Another man said he believes maxi operators want to maintain their profit margin. “To be fair, the pandemic has hit them hard too, particularly with schools closed.”
A woman said, “It’s pressure on both sides. If maxi drivers can’t pay their expenses, they can’t work to accommodate the travelling public. If passengers can’t pay the fares, less people will be travelling, so it’s still less revenue for drivers.”
In a statement, the Route Two Maxi Taxi Association said the proposed fare increases, initially carded for October 11, will now take effect on November 1. Existing fares will remain in effect until then.
Route One president Eon Hewitt said the association is arranging for a virtual meeting with drivers to decide if a fare increase is necessary for the routes they operate on.
“We are taking it into consideration, but we have not yet come to a decision,” he said.