The state government on Wednesday hiked bus fares by Re 1 to compensate for the recent increase in fuel prices and said the Centre should be “held responsible for the additional burden”. “We have decided to hike bus fare by Re 1 for the first stage and the rest will be in proportion to that. The new fare will be applicable for both buses and mini-buses. There will soon be an increase in taxi fares and all passenger vehicles that run on petrol or diesel,” said state Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari.
The decision was taken after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a meeting with private transport operators, ministers and department officials at the state secretariat, Nabanna. The government also assured that fares for taxis and other vehicles will be raised soon. This is the first time bus fares have been hiked in the state since 2014.
As per the current fare structure, a passenger will pay Rs 6 for four km in a bus, while in a mini-bus, passengers will have to pay Rs 7 for the first few kilometres.
Adhikari blamed the central government for “burdening” people, saying, “We apologise to commuters, but we are forced to increase the bus fare because of high fuel prices. The central government has miserably failed to control high fuel prices and should be held responsible for this additional burden.”
Bus and taxi operators said they have temporarily called off their proposed strike against the rise in fuel prices to study the government’s fare hike.
“We will see the gazette and then evaluate if the hike in fare is sufficient for bus operators. Till then, we have decided to call off the strike,” said Tapan Bandopadhyay, general secretary of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicate.
“The government did say that they will increase the fare, but by how much is not yet clear. We will wait for few days to find out if our demands have been met. Even if the minimum tax fares are revised to Rs 30 from 25, our purpose will be solved,” said Bimal Guha, president of the Bengal Taxi Association.
Adhikari also said fares may be slashed in future if the diesel prices come down, and that a committee would be set up to monitor diesel-price fluctuations and decide if and when fares need to be revised.