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Civil society files a motion demanding that bus fares drop to R$ 2,70

07 January /Popular Center of Human Rights

Entities denounce irregularities in the last fare adjustments, which did not respect the IPCA rate, and call for an investigation into the metropolitan transrport system, which is managed by Conselho Superior de Transporte Metropolitano (CSTM) and by Consórcio Grande Recife (CTM).

 

Last December, entities from the civil society, legally assisted by The Popular Center of Human Rights (CPDH), have filed a lawsuit demanding the annulment of the fare adjustments from 2015, 2016 and 2017, which were approved by the council of metropolitan transportation (CSTM) and by the regulation agency of the state of Pernambuco (Agência Estadual de Regulação de Pernambuco - Arpe). The lawsuit states that the rises were irregular, given the fact that they were above the IPCA rate - the index on which annual adjustments should be based, according to CSTM's own Operations Manual.

 

With the annulment, the current ring A fare, for instance, would be decreased to R$ 2,70, which means a decrease by 15%. The motion was taken to 4ª Vara da Fazenda Pública, the same specialized court for Treasury related matters that suspended a fare adjustment in January 2018. Another argument from the lawsuit is that the election of councelors to represent citizens in CSTM should be redone so that it respects the principles of transparency and public participation.

 

It is clear that the rises from the past three years were irregular, once they are above the Consumer Price Index (Índice Nacional de Preços ao Consumidor Amplo - IPCA) rate. As a matter of fact, both the concession agreements and STPP/RMR's Operations Manual state that annual fare adjustments should be done according to the IPCA rate. If this is proved right, the adjustments will be annuled and the fare will be decreased. 

 

 

STTP/RMR's Operations Manual - Attachment 16, page 116

Chapter XI, Section I

“5 - The tariffs paid by users will suffer annual adjustments according to the Consumer Price Index - IPCA, which is calculated by Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística - IBGE, and will be revised every 4 (four) years once the costs of STPP/RMR's service delivery are updated" 

 

As an alternative to this proposal, the document suggests that the fare may remain R$ 3,20 until the illegal rises are compensated by the inflation rate and all services related to this price are fully implemented by the bus companies. This means that: Sistema Inteligente de Monitoramento da Operação - SIMOP (an intelligent system to monitor the operations) must be put into use in all bus lines; a report - which currently doesn't exist - on the operational performance of the services delivered by the bus and BRT companies should be made public; accessibility and air conditioning must be available in 100% of the fleet; the fleet must be expanded as it has been established since 2014.

 

The popular action followed another lawsuit that was brought to the Public Ministry in December by CPDH on behalf of organizations that are calling for an investigation into the administration of Recife's public transport system (Sistema de Transporte Público de Passageiros da Região Metropolitana - STPP/RMR) and into the 2018 ellection of councilors that supposedly represent citizens in CSTM.

 

Problems with CSTM

 

There are other denounces involving CSTM, which was irregular during most of 2018, once an ellection of new councilors to represent the civil society was not done, disrespecting law Lei 13.235 from 2007 and its own rules and regulations.

At the beginning of 2018, former councilors with expired mandates were put back in their positions for another year, which is irregular according to the Council's Rules and Regulations, once a new conference must be done so that an election (or a reelection) can take place (which wasn't the case).

Thus, all of the decisions made in 2018 by CSTM can be considered irregular and invalid. The election of councilors only took place at the end of 2018, and the process did not respect principles such as transparency and public participation, hence it is illegal.

Also, the lawsuit calls attention to CSTM's disrespect to its own principle of transparency, given that the assemblies are not made public in advance and that the civil society and the press are not allowed to take part in them. Finally, the meeting minutes are not published in CTM's website or in the government gazette.

That is to say, citizens are not able to keep track of the management and the decision-making process regarding public transportation, which is a constitutional right as much as health and education.

 

Other denounces

Another denounce is in relation to the exclusive tie-in sale of bus tickets. In Recife, only those passengers who own a VEM card can ride several BRT and bus lines, not to mention that the half ticket, which is a right for the entire population on Sundays, is also exclusive for VEM users. According to the lawsuit, this qualifies as a tie-in sale, which is considered an abusive practice according to Brazilian Código de Defesa do Consumidor.

Besides, the transport companies don't reveal details about what is done with the expired VEM credits, which is also something our lawsuit requires an investigation into.

 

Requests

Besides the denounces, the document suggests adjustments in the management of the metropolitan transport and in the actions of CTM and CSTM, such as: systematic monthly presentation of charts with all the existing data on the delivery of the service by the public transport system; 45-day notice informing about the upcoming assembly to discuss the fare rises, with all the necessary paperwork to explain the proposed rises; public hearings; The creation of a Permanent Accessibility  Committee; Information about the lines displayed on the bus stops; and the end of the expiration of VEM credits.

 

TO SUM UP:

Requests made by the Popular Action

  1. A drop from R$ 3,20 to R$ 2,70* (which should be the price of the fare if it was based on the IPCA index, as recommended by STTP/RMR's Operations Manual);
  2. A new ellection of councilors to represent citizens in CSTM, respecting the principles of transparency and public participation, as well as considering the criteria of conformity and publicity of the council's actions;
  3. End of the exclusive tie-in sale of tickets to rides on BRT, certain bus lines, and half tickets, which limit the access to these rides to users of the VEM card;
  4. Extinction of expiration of VEM credits;
  5. Systematic monthly presentation of charts with all the existing data on the delivery of the service by the public transport system;
  6. 45-day notice informing about the upcoming assembly to discuss the fare rises, with all the necessary paperwork to explain the proposed rises;
  7. Public hearings on STTP/RMR;
  8. The creation of a Permanent Accessibility Committee;
  9. Information about the lines displayed on the bus stops;

*This is the value of the A ring, which is being used as an example. For the other fare rings, one may apply the same percentage decrease, which is around 15%

 

What you need to know about the last irregular rises

In 2015, Recife's bus fare ring A (which represents 80% of all bus lines) went from R$ 2,15 to R$ 2,45, instead of R$ 2,30, which was the appropriate rise for the time.

In 2016, if the fare had reached R$ 2,30, it should have gone to 2,55. Instead, it started to cost 2,80. Again, in 2017, if the previous rise had been appropriate (fare ring A by R$ 2,55), it should rise by 2,70, and not 3,20, as it actually happened.

Currently, the fare is 50 Brazilian cents more expensive than it should be. And we are only mentioning ring A! For the other ones, the rise is only 15% lower.

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