Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has directed transport corporations to consider the option of introducing variable bus fares keeping in mind the fluctuations in fuel prices. Transport Minister D.C Thammanna told The Hindu that this system of pricing will help both the public and the corporations. However, senior officials said that such a fare system will not be easy to implement. “When the last fare revision was made in 2013, the diesel price was Rs 53 per litre.
Last year, a move was made to increase the fare when the fuel price touched Rs 75 per litre. Now, the diesel price stands at Rs 67 per litre (after the State government increased the tax rate). As there have been fluctuations, the Chief Minister has instructed the department to consider pricing bus fares accordingly,” said Thammanna. On Saturday, Kumaraswamy announced the bus fare revision will be decided in a week. All four road transport coporations (KSR BMTC, NWKRTC and NEKRTC) have been pitching for revision for bus fare citing huge losses. For 2017-18, the corporations incurred a cumulative loss of 600 crore owing to a rise in fuel price and increasing operational expenses.
“Bus fares have to be revised to help the corporations avoid further losses,” Thammanna added. On September 17, 2018, the Transport Department had issued an order allowing the corporations to increase the bus fares by 18%. However, the order turned out to be a huge embarrassment for the Chief Minister as it was issued on the day fuel tax was slashed by Rs 2 per litre. Within hours, the order was put on hold. When asked about whether the corporations are batting for the 18% hike, the Minister said: “Last time, the corporations had sought a fare revision from 14 to 18% considering the fuel prices at the time. Now there is a drop in fuel prices and the same will be considered while fixing fares. We have already left it to the discretion of Kumaraswamy.”
The State government’s attempt to increase the fare has been opposed by commuters. Vinay Srinivas, of Bengaluru Bus Prayanikara Vedike, said: “Poor people are travelling in buses and it should be affordable. City buses operated by BMTC help to decongest the traffic and the State government should encourage more people use the public transport by making it affordable.