Government asks long-haul bus companies to defer price hike

Taipei-- Long-haul coach bus operators have agreed to postpone plans to push through fare increases caused by higher costs from labor law revisions until March 1, the Directorate General of Highways (DGH) said Wednesday.

Several bus companies that offer long-haul services filed applications with the DGH starting late last year to raise fares, citing the higher overheads expected after the Labor Standards Act (?????) was amended last December.

The revisions mandated a new system of one mandatory day off and one "flexible" rest day per week for private sector workers that companies believe will disrupt shift rotations, force them to pay more for overtime and leave them understaffed.

Though the DGH approved their applications, it asked them to put off the deadline for implementation of fare hikes until after the Lantern Festival on Feb. 11.

Most recently, Ubus announced Monday that it plans to raise bus fares beginning Feb. 13.

One-way discounted fares for services between Taipei and Kaohsiung will be raised to NT$530 from NT$470, and the promotional fare for services between Taipei and Tainan could increase to NT$370 from NT$220 previously.

In a statement released Wednesday, however, the DGH said operators of long-haul coach services had agreed to maintain their preferential fares until at least Feb. 28.

Before Wednesday's announcement, bus companies appeared reluctant to go along with the delay in fare increases.

Ubus, for example, said it would thoroughly assess the matter and report on it to its board of directors.

Capital Bus also said the company would evaluate the DGH's request, and Aloha Bus and Kamalan Bus said they would further assess their fare hike plans.

The newly implemented work rules are expected to increase the operating costs of long-haul bus operators by 5-10 percent, according to Aloha Bus.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel