YEREVAN—Following days of angry protests against the City Council’s decision to hike public transportation fares by 50 percent, Mayor Taron Margaryan issued a statement Thursday night reversing the decision and rolling back the fares to their original amount.
The mayor announced that he has already begun the process of creating a task-force of experts and interested individuals who will closely analyze the decision to hike public transportation fares and the enhancement of Yerevan’s public transportation system, and until that group’s final report, he halted the execution of the fare hike.
In his statement, Margaryan argued that since assuming the mayor’s office, one of his main goals has been to upgrade the decaying transportation system in Yerevan to ensure secure transport of all passengers, thus justifying his decision to increase the fare.
Margaryan went on to say that burdening an already socio-economically challenged public with the costs of improving the public transport system was not his intention.
Protests, led mainly by youth activists started on Friday, a day before the fare hike was to have gone into effect. Through social media and mainly the online press, the protests, which began at bus stops grew into a public movement of outcry against city officials, who often criticized the public for expressing their anger at the far hikes.
On Monday, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Supreme Council of Armenia issued an announcement condemning the fare hike decision and urged the city government to re-evaluate the increases that were becoming a burden on the people of Yerevan.
In its announcement, the ARF condemned the Armenian government’s shortsighted policies; demanded that the decision to increase public transportation prices be halted and any fare increases be carried out through a transparent mechanism corresponding to the increase of wages.
The party also suggested the establishment of a public-expert group, to develop and propose a legal-collective system that includes multiple rate plans, discount systems and the formation of transportation cooperatives.
More important, the ARF welcomed and expressed its solidarity with those groups and youth who are expressing their anger at this disgraceful decision and through their activism are defending their and the public’s rights.