Citizens term bus fare hike unfair

Citizens term bus fare hike unfair

A host of textile workers, domestic workers, street vendors and other unions on Wednesday questioned the rationale behind the hike in fares by the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC).

Together, they have formed ‘Bangalore Bus Prayaanikara Vedike’ (BBPV). Pointing out that in the last three years the BMTC bus fares have increased by almost 80 per cent, the BBPV, said: “This, when the actual increase in diesel prices has been between 25 per cent and 30 per cent.”

“...BMTC fares are being increased regularly, while incomes have hardly kept pace,” Madina Taj, a garment worker, said. “Some people who are unable to manage have stopped using buses and walk to their place of work or school, even if it is a distance of four or six kilometres,” she said, adding that people are coping with the increased expenditure on bus travel by reducing spending on other essentials such as food and education. In her case, after deductions, she earns a meagre Rs 4,500 per month, of which she is forced to spend Rs 1,500 on travelling.

The representatives also said:  “There needs to be an audit by the CAG of the BMTC’s finances and also a social audit of its functioning by various people’s groups to really understand the situation.”

Another member of the organisation said: “When the government can spend Rs 40,000 crore on Bangalore Metro Rail Phases 1 and 2, why can’t it absorb what seems to be a much smaller amount of ‘loss’ incurred by the BMTC?”

Questioning why the government sees the BMTC as a private company, considering profit and loss, Taj said buses form the backbone of Bangalore’s public transport system. Going by the experience of other cities with rail-based systems – Chennai, Kolkata, and Mumbai  – it is evident that buses will play a vital role even after the Metro starts operation.  

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