Armenia: Bus Boycott Leads To Lower Fares

July 26 2013

July 26, 2013 – 3:39am

Armenia’s Barevolution (Hello Revolution) may have petered out, but,
in the end, its bus revolution succeeded. After a five-day-long boycott
of public transportation in the Armenian capital over a 50-percent
fare hike, Yerevan Mayor Taron Markarian on July 25 agreed to scrap
the increase.

Some sign of likely change had been in the wind after Prime Minister
Tigran Sarkisian scoffed at speculation that the boycott was a staged
political provocation, describing the campaign as for “social equality,
justice and . . . against poverty.” Transportation tariffs now stand
at 100 drams (24 cents) for buses and marshrutkas and 50 drams (12
cents) for trolleybuses.

Nonetheless, pointed out Hetq Online, the mayor’s comments are
“somewhat contradictory.” While returning prices to their original
level, an increase is, he claimed “unavoidable.” Though he did not
elaborate on the topic, higher prices for imported Russian natural
gas, widely used in Armenia as fuel, are thought to have sparked
the increase.

A commission made up of “specialists and interested persons” will
now sit down to figure out how to introduce a “unified system of
payments” for public transportation that could introduce the 150-dram
fare without putting “the burden of higher fare rates on socially
vulnerable groups . . . ” reported the mayor as saying.

In an apparent attempt at spin, Markarian, however, expressed pleasure
that various celebrities and others had started an online carpooling
campaign to take Yerevan residents where they wanted to go without
public transportation. “I am happy with the warmth that again exists
now between Yerevan residents in terms of helping and being more
caring toward each other,”RFE/RL’s Armenian service reported him as
saying in a statement.

But, ultimately, the price reversal could signify more than neighborly
good feelings. As noted, the decision gave “Armenians
more than a community victory, but the sense they can change more
than 50 AMD when they come together.”

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