“What they doing not fair to senior citizens.”
That was one reaction to Minister of Finance Colm Imbert’s plan to increase the cost of travel between Trinidad and Tobago.
People in Port of Spain shared their thoughts on the price hike. Some thought it was fine and about time while another took it personally.
Fares will increase from January 1, 2023. Currently senior citizens travel on the inter-island ferry for free, but will be required to pay $50 for a round trip come next year. The price of standard round-trip tickets increases from $100 to $150, and premium round-trip from $200 to $300, while round-trip airline tickets increase from $300 to $400.
Umilta James, 84, was walking on Duke Street. Of the fare increase, James said, “I good here. I don’t like water. I don’t like the sea at all,” but on the one-time transport grant for those in receipt of benefits, she commented, “That would be nice.”
Bystander Roger Khan said,” If the airline not making money and they say they running into deficit right through, well, they have to raise it.”
A woman in line at the port, Renis Gabriel said, “I think it’s fine. It’s been the same thing for a while.”
Another woman was quick to disagree. “I am a senior citizen and with regards to cost of living, when public servants and other parties get increases, our pension remains the same. We have to face utility bills and groceries, and I don’t think the increase in ferry fares is fair to us. I think it should be on par with international norms. Furthermore, how long will that one-time transport grant last?”
A man nearby reacted immediately: “You don’t know what you saying there, lady. If it was on par with international it would be a hell of a lot more.”
Suresh Gopaul, 66, said, “The budget stinks. Everything you want in this country is a hassle. The fare increase stinks.”
A senior citizen, Rudy Taylor, 79, who has lived the majority of his life abroad, said he had not been to Tobago since he was 14 and the increased rate would not bother him. Other than that, he had much to criticise about TT’s underdevelopment throughout his lifetime.
UTT Guild president Alex Hewitt, 23, was at the port. He said, “For a young person like me who not working, let’s say a Tobagonian, who has to travel back and forth for school, it would be kind of a struggle. Even if they getting 100 per cent coverage from GATE, you don’t know the family’s financial situation.”
Another man in line just wanted to know how he is getting his one-time $1,000 transport grant.
An official at the port said a meeting would be held to discuss tickets already bought for dates next year, and she could not comment further. She added she was concerned for the ferry regulars who would face the brunt of the increase.