Public transit fares raised in Azerbaijan
Bus and metro fares in Azerbaijan will increase by fifty per cent starting 1 August.
Passengers previously paid 20 qepik (11 US cents) for one trip, but will now pay 30 qepik (17 US cents) for trips inside the city. Trips to the suburbs from the city or between the suburbs will now cost anywhere between 30 and 90 qepik (between 17 and 50 US cents), and 2.4 qepik (1.4 US cents) per kilometre between towns.
According to the APA news agency, the fare increase is justified through the growing expenses related to public transit in recent years – from the purchase of foreign buses to service providers’ measures taken towards ‘a steady increase in the level of service’. The Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies as well as Baku metro and bus companies appealed to the Tariff Council to review tariffs after they reviewed the latest expenditures. The appeal was accepted.
Bus fares have not changed since 2007, while metro fares stayed the same since 2011.
Social networks users reacted with a wave of discontent and sarcasm to this news:
“Yes, it’s impossible to get on our subway. The stuffiness, the wagons are old … and most buses are not better. What are they raising the price for? And, without public discussion… .”
“We deserve this. If this goes on, it will cost 1 manat soon enough.”
“Even if the price doubles again, these people will remain silent … .”
As for some posters, it is unclear whether they are being ironic, sarcastic or serious:
“I fully support the price increase! Let them even make it 50 qepik. On the upside, transport won’t be so jammed anymore, as people will stop taking buses or metro to travel a distance that can easily be reached on foot in 10 minutes. And this is good for the cafés in the outskirts – local loafers will stop going to the city, and start spending time there.”
Facebook users spontaneously came together to organize a peaceful protest action to stop using the metro and buses whenever possible.
The Tariff Council stresses that even after the fare increase, public transport in Azerbaijan will remain among the cheapest in the region.
However, passengers have responded saying that it is incorrect to compare public transit fares in Baku with those, for example, in Russia or Turkey, because their average salaries are higher and the quality of services provided in these countries is higher as well – the vehicles are newer, and air conditioners are installed in all buses, not only some.