The Squalid Money Box

Alfredo Fernandez Rodriguez

Havana Metrobus.  Photo: Caridad
Havana Metrobus. Photo: Caridad

When I board a public bus in Havana, I pass my one peso over the money box and put it directly into the hand of the driver, who returns the look of an accomplice and silently pockets the change.  This scene occurs routinely.

This is the consequence of the replacement of State-employed fare collectors by money boxes. Amazingly, this has resulted in quiet acquiescence by the public, who each drop one peso into the box for a service that officially costs less than half – only 40 cents (0.40 pesos).

I earn a monthly wage of 415 pesos, and I take at least two buses daily costing one peso each. This means that [with the scarcity of change] I lose $1.20 to the State daily, paying for the equivalent of three additional buses rides that I don’t take.

This lack of concern by the authorities therefore costs me around 10 percent of my monthly wage.  Moreover, though we’re all paying one and a half times the actual value of the fare, we will not see greater efficiency in the urban transportation services.

The State should facilitate the improvement of our quality of life, not hinder it.  Under these conditions, the payment for urban transportation is an act of aggression against working Cubans who have already seen their purchasing power drop.

Considering it my civic duty to pay for my bus ride, I can more easily rationalize my payment to the driver than to some abstract entity called the State.

Given all this, I am making public my decision to no longer pay public bus fares in Habana unless I have the exact 40 cents fare.

One thought on “The Squalid Money Box

  • It appears that it is Your choice not to get the correct change that costs You around 10% of Your monthly wage. You are not a victim but a volunteer. Why would the “authorities” be more concerned for Your financial well being than You are?
    In Canada it is required that the correct change be supplied by the rider. We have the freedom to walk if we don’t wish to provide the correct change. Oh,yeh…the driver would lose his job for stealing the fare… Life is much easier in Cuba…No?

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