Yerevan Mayor Taron Markarian on Tuesday did not rule out the possibility of making another attempt soon to significantly raise the cost of public transport in the Armenian capital.
Markarian said his final decision will be based on the recommendations of an ad hoc commission on transport which he set up last month. “If we want to have normal transport we must definitely discuss that issue,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “If we don’t want to have normal transport or transport in general then the existing situation must stay unchanged.”
Markarian already raised transport fares by over 50 percent last month. The municipal administration and private transport firms failed to enforce the unpopular decision due to unprecedented protests by hundreds of mostly young activists. The latter succeeded in convincing many commuters not to pay higher fees. The fare hike was suspended as a result.
The 35-year-old mayor claimed that he backed down not because of the protests. He said he simply consulted with students and representatives of “socially vulnerable groups” affected by the measure. He said he will revisit the decision on the basis of recommendations to be made by the commission.
The commission is supposed to comprise not only officials from Markarian’s staff but also opposition members of Yerevan’s municipal assembly and civil society representatives. The ad hoc body has still not been formed. The Zharangutyun and Prosperous Armenia parties, the only political groups challenging the ruling Republican Party in the city’s Council of Elders, have voiced serious misgivings about its activities.
Meanwhile, dozens of youth activists are continuing to hold a non-stop sit-in outside the municipality building in the city center. They are demanding that Markarian sack two senior officials in charge of public transport.
Markarian again rejected those demands on Monday. “Those persons are doing their jobs properly,” he said. “I will dismiss them if they don’t.”