The Cyprus Public Transport (CPT) announced on Wednesday that from September 1 the cost of a single route bus ticket in the Larnaca and Nicosia districts will increase from €2 to €2.40.
Furthermore, the cost of a monthly bus card for students will also increase from €10 to €15.
An agreement between the transport ministry and CPT allowed the latter to double the monthly bus card fare from June 1.
However, after Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades held discussions with CPT, it was agreed that the fare increase would not apply for the months of June and July, but would instead start from September, at the beginning of the school year.
Vafeades also said that, in a bid to alleviate the financial impact of the new fares on students and parents, the transport ministry decided to absorb 50 per cent of the increase for the monthly bus cards for students, which means they will cost €15 instead of €20.
The minister will meet the representatives of the Pancyprian confederation of secondary education parents after August 15 to address their concerns and to seek potential solutions to the increased bus fares.
In fact, the transport ministry’s decision to absorb part of revised fares did not completely satisfy parents, who voiced their disappointment to Vafeades in the past days.
Talking to the media on Wednesday, the minister stressed that the government’s goal is to ultimately make transport for students free of charge, although he added that fiscal constraints must be considered.
“Exploring solutions and finding ways to assist students and their families remains a priority for us,” Vafeades said.
Asked about the next steps after meeting the parents, he said that through dialogue, the ministry aims to understand the issues and their implications, “to then explore and ponder alternative solutions”.
Moreover, he said that the ministry is considering the possibility of requesting additional and more specific bus inspections to the managing company.
“The inspections’ goal is to verify whether the buses are safe enough to carry students to school,” he said.
“Special attention will be given to buses used for school excursions, as several issues emerged regarding those last year.”
Later on Wednesday, labour union PEO has also voiced its disagreement over the forthcoming fare hikes.
“The price increase will not only affect students, but also pensioners and vulnerable groups,” the union said, calling on CPT to reevaluate its decision.
The union was referring to the price of a single route bus ticket, increased from €2 to €2.40.
“While the government rightly emphasises the importance of using public transport as a means to address traffic issues and to reduce environmental pollution, the approval of these increases may yield counterproductive outcomes,” PEO said.
“We also want answers from the government, which is responsible for monitoring contract terms regarding fare hikes, as they will directly impact students, pensioners, and other vulnerable groups who heavily rely on buses, particularly those from low-income backgrounds and with limited transportation alternatives.”