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State court suspends hike in bus fares

September 11, 2012

The one-peso bus fare hike approved across Jalisco last month has been suspended by a state court following a legal complaint by the Federation of University Students (FEU).

Bus fares in Guadalajara have reverted to six pesos for the time being, and those bus drivers who have been caught charging seven pesos since Saturday’s ruling face fines of 1,200 pesos. On Monday alone the Roads and Transport Agency (SVT) fined 402 bus drivers, 386 of whom were operating in the metropolitan area, for continuing to charge the increased fee.

The Jalisco Bus Drivers alliance is currently preparing a legal case to overturn the provisional suspension approved by the Administrative Court of the State (TAE), so bus prices could yet rise again depending on the outcome of the case.

The ongoing dispute has provoked some extreme reactions this week. One angry commuter in Guadalajara even left a route 368 driver hospitalized with fractured ribs and whiplash for trying to charge him seven pesos.

The cost of public transport in Mexico may seem low in comparison with other countries, but in proportion to the minimum wage it is actually staggeringly high.

The minimum wage in Jalisco is just 7.57 pesos per hour, meaning bus fares of seven pesos would cost the lowest paid workers an hour’s worth of wages. Those who have to take two buses to get to and from work would effectively be working for four hours each day just to cover the cost of commuting.

A bus ticket in London costs 48 pesos, eight times the current fee in Guadalajara, but the minimum wage in the United Kingdom is equivalent to 129 pesos per hour, 17 times higher than in Jalisco.

In New York a bus ticket is five times more expensive than in Guadalajara, but the minimum wage there works out at 95.5 pesos per hour, 12 times more than in Jalisco. A Toronto bus ticket costs 40 pesos, almost seven times as much as in Guadalajara, while the minimum wage is 136 pesos per hour, 18 times more than it is here.

While most workers in Mexico earn considerably more than the minimum wage it is difficult to measure the income of the self-employed or informal workers paid in cash each fortnight. What is clear is that for those at the very bottom, public transport is almost prohibitively expensive.

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