CARACAS – Venezuelans are finding affordable travel options elusive during the holidays due to a combination of the usual high-season price hikes in bus fares and the hyperinflation plaguing the South American country.
Travelers heading out of Caracas for New Year’s Eve have been forced to stand in long lines at bus terminals, while other people hoping to get out of town have found the cost of a ticket beyond their reach.
Venezuela’s 2017 inflation rate, estimated at 2,000 percent by the opposition-controlled National Assembly, has led to hikes in bus fares by transportation companies, which are dealing with shortages of the spare parts needed to keep aging buses running.
About 20 percent of buses are out of service due to a lack of spare parts and 65 percent of the national bus fleet is more than 15 years old, Socialist Transportation Association spokesman Felix Jaramillo said.
La Bandera, the largest bus terminal in Caracas, is usually mobbed with travelers at this time of year, but the situation in 2017 is different.
The taxi and moto-taxi drivers who have spent years picking up fares at the terminal’s doors say that they have never seen such a “sad” atmosphere at La Bandera.
“Look at the faces of the people,” a taxi driver told EFE on condition of anonymity, adding that “you never know who might be listening and later they’ll screw you.”