Free bus fares for pensioners rolled out
October 4, 2018 6:04 pm
For the first time ever, over 51,000 pensioners in the country will be able to ride buses for free now under the government’s free bus fare initiative.
The free bus fare initiative has been covering over 4,000 Fijians living with disabilities and this time, pensioners will also be added to the list.
This follows a review of a comprehensive analysis conducted by Vodafone on riding trends.
Since Monday, the government will top-up e-Transport cards of all recipients with $40 monthly allowances to cover bus travel.
Any unused funds will expire and not roll over at the end of each month.
Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the government has stepped in after bus operators were no longer willing to offer free bus fare service for Fijians living with disabilities and pensioners ride at half price.
The government and bus operators had negotiated an agreement which allowed bus operators to keep the VAT component of bus fares and in turn not increase bus fares.
However, he adds the government believes its incumbent upon them to afford a special level of care of those living with disabilities and pensioners –– some of the most vulnerable Fijians in our society.
The Minister says that apart from letting bus operators to continue to keep the VAT component of bus fares, they’re taking on the full cost of the initiative.
He adds that without the advancement of eTransport, this policy would have been nearly impossible to implement, but the government has taken a critical step to modernise our transportation industry.
This means tens of thousands of pensioners will also have newfound independence to travel more freely to visit their families, seek Government services and medical care, and carry out the day-to-day business of their lives with no financial burden.
Only the initiatives beneficiaries –– pensioners and those living with disabilities should use these preloaded eTransport cards.
LTA will be conducting random spot checks for misuse of the system; those falsely bearing another Fijian’s eTransport card, which are clearly marked, will be penalised.
The government will also be carrying out a review of the Free Bus Fare initiative to cater for any recipients with special travel requirements.