Nicolette Dirk, finance writer, Justmoney.co.za
Metrorail, South Africa’s biggest commuter rail service provider will increase train ticket prices across the board from 1 July 2014. Commuters should expect to pay 50c more on all single tickets, R1 for return tickets while weekly and monthly ticket holders will pay an extra 15 cents per trip.
Metrorail said the decision to adjust service fares was not taken lightly, as the rail operator is well aware of the effects of increased costs on commuters.
“The decision also looked at socio-economic factors such as affordability, rising costs and inflation to ensure that our commuters are not worse off. Most commuters do not earn an income, those with an income earn less than R2500 per month,” said Metrorail.
They added that they had no option but to increase train fares. Currently the train ticket is subsidised by government at 70% of the operating costs. According to Metrorail, this annual fare increase is necessary for it to be able to continue providing the train service to commuters.
Opposition to the new tariffs
In response to Metrorail’s ticket price hike, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), one of the country’s biggest trade unions, stated they would oppose the increases in rail tariffs until the train services are improved.
According to the union, the present service has seen workers arrive late at work, with loss of income and disciplinary action taken against them.
“The unreliability of the service also forces workers to make alternative transport arrangements at huge cost implications. The effect of these extra costs being passed on to workers has caused them lots of hardship,” said Cosatu.
It’s members will be going on strike to oppose price hikes as well as demand urgent measures to address the challenges in the system.
“The relative increase cost to commuters is above inflation and as a result no further increases can be tolerated until services are drastically improved. Commuters already carry the burden of additional costs for alternate transport when trains just do not arrive when scheduled,” said Cosatu.
Reports stated that train delays have become such a problem that Metrorail has resorted to giving commuters a letter to show their employers why they are late for work.
Tembela Kulu, provincial manager of Gauteng Metrorail, said they hoped the inconvenience caused by the increase will be matched by a continuously improved quality of service commuters will soon be able to enjoy.
“We wish to assure commuters that rail is still by far the cheapest mode of public transport in South Africa. We are confident that the value we offer makes up for the little extra they will be spending to travel with us,” he said.
From 1 July 2014, the average minimum single ticket fare of R6 will increase to R6.50 for Metro tickets. Metroplus tickets will increase from R8 to R8.50. Metroplus Express will increase from R9.50 to R10. A weekly ticket will cost six times the price of a single for Metro and eight times the price of a single for Metro Plus. A monthly ticket will cost three times the price of a weekly ticket.
For more information you can contact Metrorail’s head office on 011 773 1600 or visit http://www.metrorail.co.za/Contacts.html for the contact details in your area.