Public transport fares soar in debt-hit Portugal

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Public transport fares soar in debt-hit Portugal

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August has got off to an expensive start for public transport users in debt-burdened Portugal with fares soaring as part of an austerity drive.

Urban passengers in Lisbon and Porto saw a hike in prices of around 15 percent whether travelling by road, rail or crossing the river.

State transport companies such as Trains of Portugal raised ticket prices, with monthly passes now more than 25 percent more expensive.

The austerity drive is aimed at meeting the goals set by the European Union and International Monetary Fund as part of a 78-billion euro bailout programme to rescue the country from its current deficit.

The terms of the bailout include tax hikes, spending cuts, labour market reforms and privatisations.

The rises caused anger among travellers. Commuter Valter Gregorio said the cost of living was already too high, without the extra burden of increased transport fares.

“For those who depend on public transport, especially to get to work, since we are forced to work, to eat, and subsist and survive, we never really live, because the money is barely enough to survive, let alone to live,” he complained.

Commuter Lurdes Bastos said she feared the fares would continue to rise. “We already pay too much money for a monthly pass and I don’t know where this will stop, really I don’t know,” she said.