[All links lead to pages in Portuguese.]
A fight is brewing in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre over an increase in bus fares.
The municipal arm that oversees the city's public transportation announced on February 15, 2013 that they would raise ticket prices from 2.85 Brazilian reais (1.43 United States dollars) to 3.30 reais (1.65 US dollars), an increase of 14.82 percent.
Residents immediately mobilized against the decision, deeming the spike unfair. Some called for renewed bidding on the city's transportation contract, pointing out that Porto Alegre has not opened up bidding since 1989.
Public opinion of the Public Company for Transportation and Circulation, as the agency is called, was already low before it announced the controversial fare increase. The regional public prosecutor's office led a special investigation in 2011 into the agency's accounts, finding that its criteria for fare adjustment included the total number of vehicles in its fleet.
In an opinion [pdf] dated January 25, 2013 and authored by Gerard Da Camino, the attorney general for the state of Rio Grande do Sul, the office stated that fare calculation should only take into consideration working vehicles, not all vehicles.
The agency filed an appeal with the public prosecutor's office in response. Its aim is to show what the actual size of the fleet is.
Civil society has spoken against the measure. Even before the agency announced the increase, residents held a rally on January 21, 2013, in the city center against the possibility, reported by Sul 21:
Durante todo o ato, que se encerrou em uma concentração em frente à prefeitura, os manifestantes entoaram diversos gritos de protesto, como “Mãos ao alto! Esse aumento é um assalto!” e “Pra trabalhar! Pra estudar! Mais um aumento eu não vou pagar”. Algumas frases atacavam diretamente o prefeito José Fortunati (PDT), como “Estudo! Trabalho! Dou duro o dia inteiro! Fortunati anda de carro e ainda rouba o meu dinheiro!”
The group Bloco de Luta pelo Transporte Público (Block to Fight for Public Transportation), “composed of various organizations united in the struggle against the increase of ticket fares and for the quality of a popular, collective public transportation” in the city, gathers information about protests against the fare increase on social networks. The group organized a protest via Facebook for February 18.
On the event page, a user named Guilherme Lauterbach commented:
O Tribunal de Contas do Estado diz que a passagem em Porto Alegre deveria baixar de R$2,85 para R$2,60 e que “as empresas estão operando com uma lucratividade em sua grande maioria superior ao previsto pela planilha tarifária”. Acaba de ser pedido um aumento para 3,30. Não podemos aceitar. Queremos a redução e não o aumento da passagem. Fortunati, vai atender os interesses dos empresários?