The beginning of a new month is upon us and, just as the rest of the previous months this year, it comes with increases in the prices of public services. In this case, they will affect water bills and subway fares. And similar to the increases in gas and electricity bills, bus and train fares that took place between February and now, they are expected to bring inflation up this month.
Water bills are set to increase by 26 percent on average – 15 percent to keep up with the inflation projected by the Macri administration for the year, even though most agree that this goal is not being met, and 11 percent to reduce subsidies to the service granted by the state. According to La Nación, the average bill of a residential user – i.e. households – will go up to AR $208 per month, while the lowest fares will cost AR $130. Water company AySA announced it will implement a so-call “social bill,” aimed at the most vulnerable sectors, of AR $65 per month.
Finally, AySA announced a measure that is likely to have a substantial impact in the way Argentines consume water: a plan to change how they charge the bills. Currently, users are charged a fixed rate based on the size of the homes in which they live, rather than based on actual consumption and usage. AySA wants to change its system to the latter alternative, as only 12 percent of users are charged this way.
The hikes in subway fares have been expected for quite some time now. At a public hearing held on April 20, the Subterráneos de Buenos Aires company cleared the last legal hurdle on its way to increase the price to AR $11 in May and AR $12.50 in June, a price that would represent a 66 percent hike compared with the current fare of AR $7.50.
The adjustment will also apply to the discount scheme users access once they surpass a threshold of trips within the month. If the request is approved, the 21st to 30th trips (in the month) would go on to cost AR $8.80 in May and AR $10 in June; the 31st to 40th would cost AR $7.70; and from the 41st onward, AR $6.60 and AR $7.70, respectively. Once fares go up to AR $12.50, the scheme will change too.
The so-called “social tariff,” which subsidizes the most vulnerable sectors, will cost AR $7 come June. Retirees and pensioners, as well as disabled people, will continue to access free passes. The special fares for teachers and non-university students will hold as well.
Users will also pay a lower fare if their subway ride is their second or third means of public transport taken within a two-hour period, in accordance with the Red Sube discount system, implemented by the government in February, along with the first set of price hikes of the year.
Despite the increases, the company explained that fares will still be heavily subsidized by the City government: once they go into effect, the Rodríguez Larreta administration will still pay 61.4 percent of each trip.