Political Math for Yerevan and FreeCar Initiative in Response


Political Math for Yerevan and FreeCar Initiative in Response

On July 25 thousands of Yerevan residents got out into the streets to celebrate the victory of the Six Day struggle.

Foreign media called it "the bus revolution," although it was only the abolition of the recent decision of municipal authorities.

All began with a statement by the City Hall on the increase of Yerevan transport fare. Starting from July 20. A bus and minibus ride would cost the citizens 150 (approximately 36 cents) in the stead of the previously paid 100 Drams, and a trolleybus ride would cost them 100 Drams (approximately 25 cents) instead of the formerly paid 50 AMD. The Mayor presented the calculations by which the price rise was determined. The press called it "political math." Economists argued: even the most inflated estimates the fare per passenger in public transport does not exceed 90 Drams.

"The City Hall has officially announced that the tariffs would not be raised, and people should not worry about that, the tariffs would remain the same" - Taron Margaryan, the incumbent and also at the time Mayor said in April in the city authorities’ election campaign.

But a few months later:

"The rise in price is inevitable, we all know it ... We will do everything to ensure a minimal rise in the price, " the Minister of Transport and Communications of Armenia Gagik Beglaryan said.

Citizen - "Transportation in an abnormal state, no service, no nothing. The driver sees a car full of passengers, takes another 5,000 people, to stand on our heads, and now they want to charge 150 Drams! The question is why. I'm not going to pay, I can afford it, but I am not going to!"

Young people began to stir up protests in front of the city hall and the government, and in the streets, handing out leaflets calling to pay the same fare - 100 Drams. The protesters addressed the same appeals to the passengers and drivers, urging them to join the protest and to go on a strike. After all the tariff increase would not be reflected in their own revenue.

The youth had held similar protests. There were two cases of victory, but the protesters were mainly environmentalists, or other groups of the civil society. Now the representatives of various social strata and groups also joined the protest. Ordinary citizens who disagreed with the decision, continued to pay the previous amount. There were also drivers who, for silent solidarity, accepted the old fare paid.

A social clip was actively disseminated on the Internet: "Do not be ashamed to pay 100 Drams, feel ashamed to pay 150 Drams, when the person next to you cannot afford to pay the extra 50."

Another way to fight was the initiative “Free car.” A number of artists, well-known show business people, journalists and ordinary citizens on their own machines gave free rides to citizens in the bus stops. In the social network of Facebook users posted their schedules to transport others by their personal vehicles.

Vardan Petrosyan, actor: "I saw a wonderful scene. When a Niva stops, and the guys with a bad reputation in the community give grandmothers a ride home. This is a very beautiful sight. I'm just happy because Yerevan is now experiencing some of its great days. "

The protests grew. The police tried to block them and fined the drivers of these "free cars" and detained activists. 5 young people were even accused of "the use of violence against a representative of authorities." There have been cases when the citizens blocked police operations when they tried to arrest protesters.

The Facebook group "Pay 100 Drumm" had about 10 thousand members. At some bus stops representatives of owners of transport routes and Yerevantrans Company argued and even clashed with the protesters. And the police, standing nearby, did not respond to these clashes.

The head of the Transport Department at Yerevan Municipality Henrikh Navasardian joined the suppression of civil protests. During one of his raids, the official allowed himself obscene curses to journalists, covering the event.

The confrontation continued. The press published the names of 48 companies - owners of city transport routes, those who turned to the Mayor with a proposal to raise prices. The press also noted that the owners were not only the already notorious head of Municipality Transport Department, but also to the incumbent and former Mayors of Yerevan. Also, a number of other well-known members of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia.

By the way, recently Henrikh Navasardyan publicly apologized to journalists for the insult.

At the July 25 Government session Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan said that there was a need to take into consideration the opinion of civil society, which was becoming stronger and stronger. A few hours later an appeal was made to the citizens by the Mayor of Yerevan Taron Margaryan who announced the temporary suspension of his decision to raise prices for passenger transport.

Taron Margaryan, the Mayor of Yerevan, "I have ordered to form a commission. It will be composed of experts and stakeholders, and within a few months it should develop a mechanism for the full and complete development of the "Decision on the Revision of Tariffs for City Passenger Services," and before that the effect of this decision will be stopped, "- the Mayor of Yerevan said.

The protests proceed, albeit with a smaller number of participants already. A group of activists demanding the resignation of those responsible for the incident - the Mayor, the head of Municipality Transport Department and the Director of Yerevantrans.


30 January, 2014
Right after the New Year, the citizens of Armenia were shocked by the gas and electricity bills for December.

Featured Interviews

Joint Internet press conferences with leading experts from different countries on the topical issues of the modern times are organized within the framework of the project, entitled "Enhancing knowledge and understanding of ‘the other side’ by Armenians and Azerbaijani through Alternative and First-Hand Information". ... >>


Cooperation between the EU and EaP States 10 Years Later: What Lies Ahead?
The “enemy’s image” in Armenian and Azerbaijani societies
Russia and the South Caucasus: Agendas, Priorities and Realities-2019


Work by AGNIAN

All rights reserved. © 2018 Public Dialogues