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Public transport blame game continues

The feud between central government and Riga City Council continued Wednesday with Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma insisting responsibility for Riga's transport network was the council's alone.

Speaking on commercial LNT television Straujuma said she hoped that Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs had given serious thought to the subject before approving a nearly doubling of the public transport fares in the Latvian capital.

"This is the direct responsibility of the Riga mayor. Apparently money was spent on different activities in relation to the public transport last year, and now these activities need to be financed with Rigans’ money. I should hope that the Riga mayor had thought well and hard about it,” Straujuma said.

The Ministry of Environment and Regional Development can interfere with the activities by a local government only if there has been a breach of law, the prime minister said, "Otherwise the local governments operate in their respective territory independently in accordance with the law. The councilors have been elected, and the councilors take decisions,” she said.

Rigas Satiksme (Riga Transport), the municipality-owned company providing public transport services in Riga, recently announced an increase of fares from 0.60 euros to 1.15 euros per ride, effective as of February 1.

Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs claimed the price hikes were a direct result of central government refusing to help subsidize the transport network, arguing that as public transport in the capital benefits the whole national economy, central government should also contribute to the costs.

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