Grants, check on pvt vehicles needed to save BMTC

Grants, check on pvt vehicles needed to save BMTC

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Beset with increasing operational and staff costs amid a falling ridership, the BMTC is staring at a downward spiral. A spike in diesel prices is aggravating the situation, at a time when the corporation is already suffering cumulative losses of Rs 608 crore.

The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation has lost more than 6 lakh riders in the past three years due to a combination of factors.

Almost 5.5 lakh of BMTC commuters have opted for alternative forms of transportation. While Namma Metro has attracted 3.5 to 4 lakh citizens, many of those travelling in 1.5 lakh trips operated by cab aggregators Ola and Uber have dropped out of the buses.

Fares not hiked

Following a detailed study of its financial condition, the corporation has noted that while expenditures on all fronts have gone up, the revenue has come down drastically as fares have not been hiked since 2012-13.

For the BMTC, the fare revenue contributes to nearly 90% of the overall revenue, which has dropped from Rs 2,256 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 1,908 crore in 2017-18. About 51 lakh riders contributed Rs 1,994 crore in 2014-15, which came down to about Rs 1,550 crore last year.

The corporation charges the lowest amount at 87 paise per km compared to Namma Metro's Rs 2.97 per km. Autorickshaws and cab aggregators charge more than Rs 5 per km.

Experts have warned that hiking the fares may not be the solution. Passengers might shift to bikes, which seems like a total solution at cheaper rates while erasing the last-mile gap.

BMTC managing director V Ponnuraj said the corporation has initiated comprehensive measures over the past six months to address the issues, but a detailed policy review and infusion of financial aid are necessary.

"It's a turning point for the city with burgeoning traffic. Policies should be framed with a vision of reducing the use of private vehicles and encouraging people to take public transport. This includes an introduction of a congestion tax, high on-road parking fees and waiving of taxes for BMTC," he said.

This is necessary since the expenditure has skyrocketed from Rs 1,481 crore in 2011-12 to Rs 2,367 crore during 2016-17. As diesel prices have hit an all-time high over the past two months, officials said the scenario for 2018-19 looks grave. The BMTC has already made its move towards electric vehicles, but the dwindling finances require immediate measures.

"Despite falling ridership, the BMTC still plays a big role in the city's mobility. We can't compete with bikes or bike taxis, but the government can help the corporation by framing rules, which is the need of the hour. Public transport corporations in developed countries are heavily subsidised by the governments. Throughout this, the BMTC will be allowed to rationalise fares," Ponnuraj said.

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