Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosario said on Tuesday that the government still does not have a timetable as to when a planned increase in public bus fares will be implemented.
The Transport Bureau (DSAT) presented its proposal on the bus fare increase to the Traffic Consultative Council during a regular meeting of the government-appointed council late last month. DSAT Director Lam Hin San spoke to the media about the bus fare hike proposal after that meeting.
The current bus fare system came into force in late 2008, according to which bus passengers pay a discounted rate when using Macau Pass.
Under the current bus fare system, all passengers pay fares ranging from MOP2.8 to MOP6.4 – depending on the bus route they are on – when using cash, while they only pay from MOP2-3 when using Macau Pass. Currently, pupils and students (holding the Student Macau Pass) pay MOP1 for all routes, while senior citizens and the disabled (holding Macau Pass) pay MOP0.30 on all routes.
For the planned bus fare increase, the bureau proposes that all passengers pay MOP6 on all routes. The bureau also proposes that passengers using Macau Pass pay MOP3 on regular routes and MOP4 on express routes.
The bureau proposes that senior citizens will pay MOP1.50 during peak hours from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., while the rest of the day they get to travel for free.
According to the Macau Post Daily, the bureau also proposes that pupils and students pay MOP1.50 for regular routes and MOP2 for express routes.
According to the bureau, during the “second phase” of the proposed bus fare increase, non-locals would pay fares different to local residents’ fares when using Macau Pass. The bureau proposes that non-locals will have to pay MOp4 for regular routes and MOP5 for express routes.
Controversially, the category of non-locals would not only comprise visitors but also non-resident workers (popularly known as blue-card holders). Migrant worker groups and social activists have complained about the proposal which would discriminate against imported labour – most of them low-income workers.
Asked about the issue by reporters recently, Rosario said that the planned bus fare hikes were just proposals that could still be changed.
The government has said that the proposed lower fares for locals would amount to “positive discrimination” for them.