Kolkata: For the first time in four years the state has not rejected the transport department’s proposal to increase the fare of buses and taxis. Instead, it has assured to speak to all the stake holders to develop a mechanism that will be helpful to both commuters and vehicle owners. The government will also look into the white paper prepared by the bus operators’ syndicate that details the cost escalation of 30 items needed to run the vehicles.
The government’s intention to revise fares was felt when, in January, it formed a three-member committee to look into the fare structure. The committee, headed by managing director of West Bengal Transport Corporation Narayan Swarup Nigam, has already submitted its report to the transport department.
The proposal sent by the transport department demands a hike in bus fares by Re 1for every 4km and says the minimum taxi fare should be Rs 28. The proposal, which is at present with chief minister Mamata Banerjee, adds that the minimum fare for a ride on a private, non-air-conditioned bus would be Rs 7 for the first 4km and Re 1 extra for every slab thereafter. The proposal comes after the bus owners gave the government time till June 4 to revise fares, failing which they threatened to pull out vehicles in phases.
Tapan Bandyopadhyay of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicates said that the state government would have to make the logic clear before revising the fare. “The last price revision was on September 2014 and since then the price of diesel has shot up by more than Rs 9 a litre. We need around 30 items to run a bus and the cost of almost all items related to this industry, including tyres, insurance and spares, have risen as well. But bus fares have remained the same,” said Bandyopadhyay Though state transport minister Subhendu Adhikary refused to make any statement on the issue, sources close to the government indicated that there is hardly any possibility of increase of fare before the Lok Sabha polls.