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MÁV and Volán to raise fare prices

The state-owned railway company MÁV and long-distance Volán bus companies could raise the price of individual tickets by 15% and that of monthly and biweekly passes by 10%, the Ministry of Transport and Communication told MTI on Wednesday.

The ministry confirmed a Wednesday report by the daily Népszava but said the changes are expected to take place on February 1, 2010, not January 1 of next year as reported in the newspaper.

The decision regarding the price increases is expected by mid-January.

The ministry noted that MÁV and Volán prices were unchanged since the introduction of unified tariffs and discount system in May 2007, except for amendments due to the withdrawal of the smallest coins in the spring and a 5 percentage point VAT increase carried out on July 1. Inflation would have justified a 16.6% rise in the two-year period, the ministry said.

The ministry says the January amendment to the decree on railway and long-distance bus fares will also allow for the introduction of registration tickets for passengers traveling free of charge. The registration ticket will serve to gauge the passenger demand and the financing requirements related to local travel on MÁV and Volán, thus providing the government with data necessary to make future changes.

Népszava noted that three-quarters of Hungary's population is eligible for some sort of rebate on the cost of MÁV or Volán tickets, adding that only 15% of MÁV's 130,000 daily passengers pay full fare.

The price increases could generate in the vicinity of HUF 10 billion (€36.92 million) in revenue for the state-owned companies next year, Népszava reported. MÁV's fare revenue covers only 18% of the state-owned railway company's operating costs, the newspaper said.

Népszava asserted that Hungarian Socialist Party MPs had prevented the Bajnai government from making modifications to the MÁV and Volán discount schedules aimed at saving HUF 9 billion-HUF 15 billion per year. The Socialists, governing in minority, fall far behind the opposition in polls ahead of the general elections due next spring. (MTI-ECONEWS)