Home / Market / Company Affiliated with Ex Yerevan Mayors Exploits Drivers of Public Transportation 

Company Affiliated with Ex Yerevan Mayors Exploits Drivers of Public Transportation 

Drivers of around 150 minivans, operating routes N 1, 10, 12, 13, 19, 21, 23, 25, 29, 34, went on a strike on February 10 2020, demanding reduction of the daily “fee” they have to pay to route owners as at the end of the day, they are unable to earn their daily earning (salary).

Yerevan’s crumbling public transportation services are outsourced to a myriad of operators, with over 1000 minivans (Russia-produced “Gazelle” minivans of utmost poor quality) running routes often “owned” by former officials. This sector is largely unregulated and left to the whims of “route owners,” while new Mayor Hayk Marutyan is promising a new transport system during his tenure.

The convoluted and largely unregulated public transportation is organized through companies which apply and receive licenses from the municipality if they pledge a certain fleet of either minivans or buses and certain frequency of running. The transportation fare is fixed at 100 AMD and is collected by the drivers while passengers pay as they go. The business model of private operators is that they hire drivers, often drivers with cars, whose are obliged to pay for all the costs related to operation, including daily fuel, maintenance and on top of that, make daily payments to the “route owners.” This business model is the reason why the transportation shortage is overcome by cramping fully seated minivans with people standing or bowing.

The complaint on February 10 is that the daily “fee” has hiked again amounting to 27.000 AMD, while fuel (gas) prices have also gone up, but the ticket fare is the same. Drivers have to drive the whole day, often 12 hours, collect the ticket payments, make sure they pay 27.000, plus the fuel and maintenance costs, and at the end of they day, have an income to take home. Now, drivers go home with empty pockets.

The drivers were demanding from the Government and Yerevan Municipality to find a solution: either to negotiate with “route operators” so they drop the daily fee rate, or decrease the gas price.

Epress.am made inquires to one of the private transport companies, “Yerevan MUAT” CJSC, operating several routes. They explained that the reason for hiking the daily fee is the increased minimal salary rate set by the government.

“You remember that the government increased the minimal salaries. Now the company has to top up the daily “fee” in order to increase the minimal salary paid by hours. That’s in effect the decision of the government right?” said Hayk Sargsyan, head of operations at “Yerevan MUAT” company.

The route operator, in effect is placing its legal obligation for increasing minimal pay onto the shoulders of the workers themselves.

My midday, Yerevan municipality released a statement that there was a temporary agreement reached with the route operator and drivers were back to work. To Epress.am’s question what was the substance of the agreement, press secretary of Yerevan Mayor, Hakob Karapetyan said: “It’s more an agreement to come to an agreement in the future.”

“Yerevan MUAT” CJSC belongs to the families of Yervand Zakharyan and Gagik Beglaryan, who revolved around a myriad public posts in the past 20 years, including those of Mayor of Yerevan. The director of the company is Karen Beglaryan, a co-owner is Seyran Zakharyan, Yervand Zakharyan’s brother.