The buses and micro-buses which provide transportation to thousands of Salvadorans every day have been largely off the streets since Wednesday. The owners of the buses are protesting the government's cutting of the fuel subsidy paid to the buses while at the same time refusing to permit the buses to raise the fares they charge riders. As a result, Salvadorans have had to find other ways to work including walking, or riding in the back of pick-up trucks, and other vans and trucks which have been pressed into service.
In the past, the government's fuel subsidies were $373 for each authorized microbus and $750 for each bus; however with the cutback, the new subsidies are $200 and $400. To make up for the cutbacks, bus owners wanted to raise their fares in the urban areas from 20 cents to 30 cents per passenger, but were issued fines by the government when they tried to collect those fares starting on Wednesday. As a result, the bus owners pulled their units off the streets. (To ride in the back of a pick-up like the one in the picture above, reportedly costs 50 cents).
At various places around the metropolitan area, transportation workers staged protests, including burning trash or tires in the streets. This afternoon, leaders of the private transport associations were summoned to the president's offices for meetings about resolving the transport stoppage.
As of Saturday morning, January 5, the transport collectives had lifted the strike "until further notice." Buses have resumed circulating normally, but the underlying dispute over fuel subsidies and fares remains unresolved.