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Bus fare hike takes Tapatios by surprise

Tapatios taking bus rides on Sunday had to dig deeper into their pockets after the Jalisco state government reacted quickly to ratify a Fares Commission (Comision de Tarifas) directive to raise Guadalajara bus fares from six to seven pesos.

The commission met Friday, December 20 to discuss a demand by metro area bus owners to raise fares by two pesos. After five hours of deliberation, the commission recommended a one-peso increase – the first for four years. They listened to arguments from bus concessionaires regarding the steps they are supposedly taking to improve the service and comply with rules set down in a new transportation law (Ley de Movilidad) passed earlier this year by the State Congress.

On Saturday afternoon, the state government released – ahead of schedule – its monthly periodico oficial, in which all new laws are published, and at which moment they take immediate effect.

Criticism of the measure was instantaneous, with two opposition parties and the University of Guadalajara (UdG) students union issuing statements indicating they are prepared to take legal action to block the fare hike, which they call unwarranted.

Owners and concessionaires have pushed for a fare raise for over two years, arguing that the monthly hikes in gas and other operating expenses made their business unprofitable. 

The government has previously balked at agreeing to hikes, reasoning that the companies have done nothing to modernize their fleets or improve safety or comfort for passengers.

The powerful University of Guadalajara (UdG) also opposes the fare increase, saying it would hurt their students and, potentially, force some to drop out of school.

Taking over in March this year, Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) Governor Aristoteles  Sandoval held good on a campaign promise to subsidize the fares of students attending public schools.

In addition, the new Ley de Movilidad guarantees fare increases in line with inflation as long as bus owners adhere to the obligations set out in the Ley de Movilidad.

Speaking on Saturday, Hugo Luna, the state director for the Citizens Movement, rejected the assertion that the bus service had improved in any way since the Ley de Movilidad passed eight months ago.

Meanwhile, the Federation of University Students (FEU) presented an amparo (injunction) to block the increase.  The petition, however, was rejected and union leaders said they would seek other legal means to reverse the fare hike, even convoking a massive public demonstration when students return to classes in January.

Governor Sandoval ignored a call from the state president of the National Action Party (PAN) to veto the fare increase.  The PAN’s stance is curious, however, as the party tried to force through a similar hike in 2012 when Emilio Gonzalez was governor.  The fierce opposition of the FEU, UdG and Citizens Movement was instrumental in that proposal going nowhere.

The cost of a ride on Guadalajara’s “luxury” buses – Turquesa, Dorada, Platino – has gone up to 12 pesos.


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