Government yet to decide on reduction in bus fares

Proposal with finance department, says Transport minister

Government yet to decide  on reduction in bus fares

After announcing that the transport corporations will offer a breather to bus commuters by reducing the fares on January 1, the State government seems to have developed cold feet on the matter.

The demand for bus fare reduction had grown in the past two months after diesel prices came down. Earlier, the government had hiked the bus fares in May 2014 amid protests from the commuters.

According to sources, the transport minister had sent a proposal to the chief minister, four days ago, with an option to reduce the fares by two, three and four per cent even as all four transport corporations - BMTC, KSRTC, NEKRTC, NWKRTC have opposed any roll back in the fares. Speaking with Deccan Herald, Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy said “The proposal is pending with the chief minister who has sent it to finance department for examining. I am hopeful that it will be announced in two or three days.”

The officials, however, said that with recent hike in excise duty and uncertainty over the diesel prices in a decontrolled scenario, it would be difficult to manage the expenses.

A senior official of the BMTC said “Today, the prices of the diesel may be reduced but next week it may go up by Rs five. If we keep reversing or increasing the fares, it will be difficult to manage the expenses of the corporations. It will also adversely affect their day-to-day functioning.”

The BMTC is facing losses to the tune of Rs 600 crore and KSRTC Rs 300 crore. But sources in both KSRTC and BMTC said that the corporations, in their separate reports to the minister, had stated that their expenses had come down by Rs 138 crore due to the reduction in the fuel prices.

However, of this money, Rs 129 crore was being spent for various purposes. Also, the government is yet to pay its share of expense for providing concessional student bus passes, an official from the BMTC said.

Spending pushed up

The expenses of the corporations have gone up as the salaries of 30,000 contract workers have been increased by Rs 3,000 each. Besides, issue of raincoats to 1.20 lakh personnel and payment of dearness allowance have also pushed up the spending.

However, the chief minister, during the recently concluded Legislature session in Belagavi, had stated that the government would consider a downward revision of the fares.

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