Up to 10,000 people have signed a petition against higher public transportation fares in Riga, reports LETA.
Residents are opposing plans by Riga mayor Nils Usakovs to charge non-Riga residents higher public transportation fee's as of Jan 1st, 2014.
Riga City Council have said the plans are aimed at encouraging more people to declare Riga as their place of residence.
The signatures have been collected on the "Manabalss.lv" portal.
Ieva Brante, the petitions author, said the signatures would be submitted to the Saeima in the next few days. She added that residents should not be divided according to their place of residence.
Protesters previously sent an open letter to the Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development Edmunds Sprudzs, saying that higher public transport fares would have a dramatic effect on low-income residents who can't officially move to Riga.
The letter also emphasizes that a large segment of the population work in Riga as they are unable to find jobs in their regions. If public transport fares in Riga become more expensive, the above will be forced to look for jobs abroad.
This especially concerns young and enterprising persons who live in regions and towns but have found, or are planning to find, a job in Riga. Therefore, higher public transport fares could result in a greater mass exodus, says the letter
Riga City Council decided on Oct 7 that, as of January 1, 2014, residents who have declared Riga as their place of residence will have to pay LVL 0.42 (EUR 0.6) per one ride in Riga public transport system. The fare for all other passengers will be LVL 0.84 or EUR 1.20. The current fare is LVL 0.5.
Similar changes are planned in the prices of monthly passes, however, schoolchildren and students who study in Riga will have their public transport discounts increased, regardless of whether they live in Riga or not, from 60 percent to 80 percent.
Officials explained that differentiating public transport fares is meant to encourage the populace to declare Riga as their official place of residence, so personal income tax they pay goes to the Riga budget.
Some have also expressed an interest in the higher fee's. One reader told The Baltic Times.
"Berlin got zones A, B, C for public transportation. Basic price is A and B. The outside zone C goes with a surcharge. Why not?"
Take part in our poll. Do you agree with Riga City Councils plans to charge non Riga residents higher fares as of Jan 1st, 2014?