COMMUTERS have called on ZUPCO to adjust timetables to cater for all workers as existing starting and finishing times and also expand on areas covered.
Currently the Zupco buses operate between 5am and 7pm, which affects those that finish work late or have to attend evening lessons at various colleges and universities, commonly known as adult learning.
Commuters want Zupco buses to operate 24/7 to cater for those who work different shifts as the current scenario assumes everyone works the traditional 8am-5pm shift.
When the cheap buses are off the road, kombis charge anything up to $5 for trips costing $1 on Zupco which affects most of the commuters who cannot afford.
Some end up jumping onto open trucks as a cheaper option to the kombis.
On Monday government announced the slashing of ZUPCO fares by 50 percent for both urban and rural travel whereby distances within 20km radius cost 50c (RTGS), 20km-30km now cost 75c while 30km to 40km is now $1.
This followed a decision to scrape support for fuel importers who were getting the US$ at 1:1 with the RTGS and now have to source the scarce currency from the interbank market.
Finance and Economic Development Secretary, George Guvamatanga said government decided to cushion the travelling public against fuel price hike.
Yesterday petrol was selling at $4.97 and diesel $4.87 at the prominent service stations, which triggered a hike in the privately owned commuter omnibuses, otherwise known as kombis.
“Please be advised that the Zupco bus fares on Operation Restore Sanity have been reduced by 50 percent from 21 May 2019. This has been necessitated by the need to cushion the travelling public,” said Guvamatanga.
In an interview with the Herald, Guvamatanga additional buses were on the way.
“We expect a consignment of more buses to come next week. Our expectation is that because of reduced fares there should be increased demand on the buses. So the focus now is increasing the number of buses available, for both urban and rural populace, we have actually realised that transport costs have been a major challenge that the travelling public has been facing.
“Not only are we working on increasing the buses, we are also trying to ensure that there is now a set timetable rather than waiting for 120 passenger bus to fill up. We are also going to look at ensuring the buses being available after hours, there will be reduced coverage but there will be still be there into the late hours of the day,” he said.
It is expected that government will spend around US$8 million in the Zupco subsidy, which Guvamatanga defended.
“A subsidy is good as long as it is quantified, budgeted and targeted, and in this particular instance we are targeting the most vulnerable members of the public and we know exactly how much it going to cost and we have budgeted for it. It is very much sustainable.
“Any responsible Government, even during austerity measures, should provide safety nets for the vulnerable members of our society. There is no austerity without social safety net. It will be a very irresponsible for Government not to have social safety nets.”