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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (The Independent, October 16) – The Port Vila Efate Land Transport Association (PVELTA) has decided to increase bus fares within the municipality boundary by 20 percent, beginning November 1.

The increase has been confirmed by the President of PVELTA Willie Wilson when speaking with The ni-Vanuatu.

Mr. Wilson says the association has seen it only fair to increase the bus fares to match the increasing fuel costs. Mr. Wilson says fuel prices has gone up four times this year alone while public transport charges have remained he same.

"In fact the association wanted to increase the bus fares by 50 percent, but considering the shock that such an increase would give to the public, the committee decided to keep it at 20 percent," Mr. Wilson explained. "There is also the provision for a further 30 percent increase on November 1, 2007, and hopefully by then, the association would have carried out some of its plans for improving the services of our public transport services," the PVELTA President says.

Mr. Wilson says there are plans to better organize and control the number of taxis at the two terminals of Bauerfield Airport.

"We have decided to maintain the number of taxis at the airport at 35. Also, the taxi drivers at the airport will start wearing their uniform in November.

"Our other plans include training for all public transport drivers and operators, and the standardization of the types of vehicle to be used for taxi services. We are looking at stopping the use of Tiko and Mini Bus vehicles for taxi services, and the vehicles approved for taxis will be enough to provide the services that would satisfy the needs of the locals as well as visitors to Port Vila," Mr. Wilson explains.

Meanwhile the increase on bus fares will mean that travelers around Port Vila on buses will pay VT120 [US$1.11]for the same trip that they are paying VUV100 [US93 cents] today. For those passengers traveling beyond the jurisdiction of Port Vila City, they will have to pay VT150 [US$1.40] starting 1 November.

Mr. Wilson says the association is aware of certain drivers doing unfair deals with local and visiting clients. He assures the public that his committee is following up the reports and those concerned will be dealt with appropriately.

There have been reports of overcharging and dumping of tourists by buses and taxis.

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