KUWAIT: This undated file photo shows commuters take a public transportation bus in Kuwait City.

KUWAIT: Commuters in Kuwait using public transport saw an increase in some fares from January 1. A popular private bus operator increased its ticket prices from 250 fils to 300 fils, but the government-owned Kuwait Public Transport Company and another privately-owned transport company have refrained from doing so. An official at KPTC said there were no plans to increase KPTC bus fares presently, but some commuters – and drivers – worry that an across-the-board increase is likely.
The fare hikes follow the government’s decision in September to increase petrol prices, an unpopular move that led to the dissolution of parliament. “The fare increase was bad news for me because I frequently take the bus,” lamented Roy T, an Indian salesman working in Kuwait. “In fact, I take the bus more than six times daily to travel from one place to another. Imagine the problems I have to face financially due to this sudden increase,” he told Kuwait Times.

Yvonne Florentino, 43, a Filipino commuter, is not bothered by the increase. However, she was annoyed when the driver demanded 300 fils in exact change. “I am not worried as it’s only a 50 fils increase, and I rarely take the bus,” she said. “My workplace is near my house in Hawally. The only problem I encountered was with a driver. It is not possible to carry exact change all the time. Thank God a Filipina gave me (the extra) 50 fils,” she said.

Yvonne said bus drivers and even passengers should be ready with loose change. “If you are the bus driver, please do not insist on passengers to provide you with change – you should be the one providing us the change. If you are a passenger, always keep 50 fils in your pocket. I think the problem of loose coins will continue if the company drivers themselves are unprepared,” she said.

Binu, another commuter from India, who is a regular passenger, said he rides the bus four times daily. So for him, it is an increase of about 200 fils a day. “When you multiply it by around 30 days, it is roughly an increase of about KD 6. My salary hasn’t increased, but my fares have,” he rued.

By Ben Garcia