Mayor on Metro: Doubling underground fare meets maintenance concerns

Yerevan Mayor Karen Karapetyan has once again explained reasons behind the recent decision to double the underground fare from the current 50 to 100 drams (15 to 30 cents) beginning July 1.

He said the move would ensure all proper operational conditions continue to be maintained.

Earlier, consumer right groups voiced their discontent at the decision, claiming that a 100-percent increase in any tariff was too much and even unlawful. The rise in the fare has also prompted a backlash from students, some of whom have set up an online pressure group to that effect.

But using the same cyber space, Mayor Karapetyan posted a message on his Facebook page expressing his “understanding of the concerns.”

“But our failure to take this step would put at risk the maintenance of all necessary conditions for the operation of the metro,” Karapetyan said.

The Yerevan mayor reiterated that the new metro fare will still not entirely cover the cost of passenger service (one commuter costs the metro 160 drams) and that the municipality will continue to subsidize the facility.

“We will not reduce the subsidy for the metro, but at the same time we have no opportunity to increase it in conditions when maintenance costs are growing,” said Karapetyan, stressing that even a 100-dram underground fare remains one of the lowest tariffs in former Soviet republics.

The 10-station Yerevan Metro launched in 1981 today serves an estimated 60,000 passengers a day and is far from being a popular type of transportation in the million-strong city. Meanwhile, over-ground transport accounts for nearly 90 percent of the entire passenger traffic in Yerevan. Consumer groups have also voiced concern that the rise in the metro fare making it identical with minibus and bus fares will put off more people from choosing an underground rail ride.

Earlier, Karapetyan said municipal authorities planned to support the metro by reducing some of the minibus routes duplicating metro lines.