HOUSE Communications and Works committee chairman Antonis Antoniou said yesterday that parliament will step in to facilitate negotiations regarding the free bus fare for students and soldiers.
Negotiations between the Ministry of Communications and Works and bus companies are at a stalemate, with the ministry insisting on inviting tenders from companies that don’t carry out scheduled routes.
The three major bus companies – EMEL of Limassol, OSEL of Nicosia and ZINON of Larnaca – appealed the tender process, arguing that the transportation of soldiers and students should be conducted exclusively by buses belonging to licensed companies which carry out scheduled routes and not by companies that use tourist buses.
The bus companies’ position was backed by a decision made by the Tender Review Authority (TRA) which stipulated that by law all public transportation should be conducted by licensed companies that carry out scheduled routes.
“For that to change”, the TRA decision said, “there must be a change in legislation”.
Antoniou said that the committee will make any necessary amendments in the legislation and then act as an intermediary between the two parties.
“We need to make changes so as the new legislation isn’t unconstitutional”, Antoniou said, adding that the proposed legislation will try and tackle all arguments.
Transport ministry officials estimate that around 31,500 high school students, from among a total of 50,000, use public buses on a daily basis, at a cost of 3m euros a year.
The bus fare for elementary students and soldiers is currently free of charge.
The contract that will be signed with the company that is awarded the tender will have a duration of ten years.