"Transport fare change is unavoidable"
The issue of changing Yerevan public transport fares is once again on public agenda. The passenger carriers insist on the inevitability of fare increase, while the citizens question the appropriateness of such a move.

On April 15 Media Center initiated a debate entitled ''Transport Fare Change: A Necessity or An Unjustified Action'' aired live online at A1+.

Proposed ground transportation fares discussed at the latest session of the commission established by the Yerevan Mayor are as follows: minibus fare – 207 AMD; diesel powered bus fare – 252 AMD; compressed natural gas powered bus fare – 192 AMD. These fares are determined based on the research carried out in December by 'IPSC' Institute for Political and Sociological Consulting.

''The involvement of international experts in the commission intents to point out that even a foreigner wants to convince us that alas, the cherry is really expensive,'' stated the head of Barev Yerevan faction Anahit Bakhshyan, adding that the commission activities are artificially delayed.

Naira Nahapetyan, member of the Republican faction of the Elders Council, disagreed by emphasizing that the commission is conducting serious research, which requires time. Bakhshyan, however, recalled July when it took Taron Margaryan merely a few days to increase the transport fare to 150 AMD.

Babken Pipoyan, head of ‘Informed and Protected Consumer’ NGO, disagreed with the preliminary rates determined by the commission. ''When last increasing the fares, the Yerevan Municipality had provided the monthly numbers for expenses and earnings per vehicle. Back then, no carrier objected with respect to expenses . Having compared those expenses to the actual earnings I can say that the per passenger cost is 70 AMD.''

''Neither activists nor passivists have carried out any alternative estimate. No alternative exists'', opposed Hrant Yeghiazaryan, chairman of the Union of Passenger Carriers of Armenia, emphasizing that they have continuously called on the civil society for cooperation but in vain.

Naira Nahapetyan, member of the Republican faction of the Elders Council, stressed that Taron Margaryan himself would be happy to have transport fares at 50 AMD, yet it is impossible. ''Though tenders are announced, presently 15 routes don't operate because entrepreneurs are not able to ensure average profit  with transport rates at 100 AMD.''

Yeghiazaryan added that the passenger carriers know the actual transport fare to be really expensive for the public but, as he noted, the carriers are not to blame because they cannot continue operating at present rates.

''We will be able to upgrade transportation facilities and provide high quality service once the fare is 200 AMD (state subsidy of 50 AMD granted),'' said HrantYeghiazaryan, chairman of the Union of Passenger Carriers of Armenia, claiming that the fare increase is required and will result in qualitative changes in 3-4 months following the raise approval.

In this regard, Anahit Bakhshyan stated that the service quality has drastically decreased since the  Municipality and the carriers intend to show the possible bad quality of transportation in case of retaining the current fares.

The Commission on Urban Public Transport Fares will continue the discussions of the issue.

On April 15 Media Center hosted a debate entitled ''Transport Fare Change: A  Necessity or An Unjustified Action'' available live online at A1+. The debate participants included: Naira Nahapetyan, member of the Republican faction of the Elders Council, head of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs,Anahit Bakhshyan, head of Barev Yerevan faction,Babken Pipoyan, head of ‘Informed and Protected Consumer’ NGO, and Hrant Yeghiazaryan, chairman of the Union of Passenger Carriers of Armenia.  

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