We Have Not Announced Increase In BRT Fare – LAMATA

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The operator of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Lagos, Primero Transport Services Limited, says it has neither announced an increase in the fares collected in its vehicles nor fixed a date for the commencement of a new fare regime.

The Managing Director, Fola Tinubu, explained in an interview that an upward review of the fares can only be approved by the regulating authority – the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority {LAMATA}.

He, however, stated that so far, Primero has not approached LAMATA for the go-ahead to raise the BRT fares, assuring that a formal announcement would be made on the outcome of the consultations with the regulators.

The Primero Managing Director was responding to harsh reactions that greeted publications last week that the BRT operator had planned a fare hike which would take effect from February 2020.

We have not announced an increase in BRT fares. What I said in that interview was that I plan to approach our regulators to seek an increase. But, until the regulators give their approval, there is no increase in fares,” Tinubu told Daily Sun on Saturday.

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He confirmed that Primero intends to approach LAMATA by the end of January for consultations on the matter, adding: “But, nobody can predict the outcome of that meeting. We will make an announcement once we finish the meeting.”

BRT fare increase has been in the front burner since early last year, with Primero complaining in a previous interview with the Daily Sun that since it commenced operation many years ago, ticket prices had been adjusted only once even against the tide of rising costs of keeping the vehicles on the road.

Presently, ticket for a ride on a BRT bus from Ikorodu to CMS is N300.

Tunubu had argued then: “We are regulated by Lagos State government. I cannot just wake up tomorrow and say I want to increase my price. In the last 13 years in Lagos State, there has been only one increase in bus fares. Everything goes up in Lagos with the exception of bus fares.

“There has only been one increase and I fought for it in 2018. It took me almost six months of yelling and begging and eventually, it was increased, but even that increase did not satisfy the situation; although it provided some succour.

“That is why I keep saying that we must have an honest conversation about bus transportation service in Lagos State. Do we want a world-class service or not? If we want it, then it has to be paid for. The question is: Who pays for it? You cannot transfer a governmental social responsibility to a private company. It is not fair.

“So, you cannot cap our revenue-generating ability and watch our costs continue to gallop. It is a recipe for disaster. I have been saying it for almost two years now and I guess people are beginning to understand.

“The danfo buses are making profit because they are not regulated and they can charge any amount they like. We can’t do that because we are regulated. And we do not enjoy any kind of subsidy.”

In the NAN report on Thursday, Tinubu had again argued that the current fares were grossly inadequate, stating that a review would enhance the firm’s capacity to provide better services for the people of Lagos.

According to him, costs of operating the buses have increased so much that Primero is finding it difficult to survive and sustain operations.

The Managing Director said: “Primero is planning to approach the regulator for an increase in fares. The last increase we got was done three years ago and our cost of operations has really increased.

The company is not in a good financial standing now to run and foot costs of maintenance and operation of buses.

“We understand the need to provide services to the people; I think the increase has become necessary in order to serve the people of Lagos better.

“With the increase, we will be able to roll out enough buses to meet the need of the state’s teeming commuters.’’

He assured the people of Lagos of Primero’s commitment to providing excellent service and reducing waiting time at various bus stops to get commuters to their destinations.

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