In a move that could impact lakhs of bus passengers, Karnataka government on Tuesday decided to increase fares by 12% effective Tuesday midnight — first hike in six years.
In a relief to Bengalureans, the government spared Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation from fare revision. The revision is applicable to Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, North Western Karnataka Road Transport Corporation and North Eastern Karnataka Road Transport Corporation.
The notification was signed by M Sathyavathi, undersecretary to the government (transport department).
The fare revision will also affect passengers in rural areas as well as inter-city passengers. The move will also force many inter-city passengers to shift to trains, private vehicles and rental cabs.
Fare hiked due to rising operational cost
The rising operational cost is citied as the reason for the hike. Fares of state transport undertakings haven’t been revised since 2014. However, STUs in Karnataka still have one of the highest fares in the country. All of them are incurring heavy losses due to skyrocketing operational costs.
STUs are spending about 50% of their outlay on staff wages and 30% on fuel costs. Statistics show at Rs 349.4 crore, BMTC suffered maximum financial loss in 2018-19, followed by KSRTC (Rs 134.9 crore), NWKRTC (Rs 89 crore) and NEKRTC (Rs 68.2 crore). Many of them have trimmed schedules to reduce losses.
In November, chief minister BS Yediyurappa said the government would reduce bus fares of STUs to encourage people to use public transport. However, the CM recently backtracked on the promise.
While a hike of 18% was announced in September 2018, it was reversed by then CM HD Kumaraswamy in under 30 minutes due to public backlash. All four STUs are hoping for a significant allocation in the budget to stem losses.
Activists slammed the move to revise fares. Srinivas Alavilli of Citizens for Bengaluru, an NGO, said: “The move will encourage people to travel in unsafe modes as well as private vehicles, including twowheelers. This will severely affect people in smaller towns and their right to commute for education or to find jobs. The bus fares should be reasonable and should not encourage more private vehicles and traffic congestion.” He said BMTC fares should be reduced by 50% to make it affordable.
KSRTC justifies move
KSRTC claimed it has taken steps to reduce the burden on rural passengers. “There is no increase of fares on passes issued to students and differently abled persons,” said a release. “In ordinary services, fare of first 3km has been reduced from Rs 7 to Rs 5 and for has not been increased for the first12 and15km. In express services, fare for the first 6km is the same,” it said.
It stated there is a steep rise in high-speed diesel rates in the international market.