Additional $0.20 Surcharge for Express Bus is not justified

24/11/2017 12:38

The Consumer Council of Fiji is calling on the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to inform public on any new additions to bus fares which will affect consumer pockets.

The call comes in light of a recent complaint received by the Council where a consumer was charged $0.20 extra than her normal bus fare in an express bus trip from Suva to Tavua. While usually the consumer paid $15.26 for her trip, recently she was charged $15.46 for the same trip. Thinking that she had been overcharged, the consumer lodged her complaint with the Council.

The Council liaised with LTA on the matter following which it was revealed that a $0.20 surcharge has been recently approved by the board for all express trips to allow for the consistent configuration of e-ticketing. They further stated that the reason for the additional $0.20 surcharge was to protect the stage service operators from competing with the express operators and it has been part of all express services conditions of their licence.

What concerns the Council is the fact that LTA failed to inform the general public of this addition as many consumers who frequently travel between central and western division are not aware.  

Furthermore, the Council does not see it fit to add additional surcharge for express services, given that express bus services are no longer different from stage services as they tend to stop anywhere they like. Therefore, the Council feels that if there are different fares being charged for the same route and destination, then there should be a clear distinction between services.

The Council notes that $0.20 increase is a significant change to bus fares without any proper consultation or public awareness. The Council sincerely feels that LTA should have taken proactive steps in advising consumers when paid advertisement were placed in the newspapers on bus fares.

A proper display of information such as schedules for Stage Services and Express Services at bus terminals; online and in buses would save time, energy and money for consumers to make an informed decision whether to travel in the bus or find alternatives.