Confederation wants minimum fare raised to Rs.7'Private bus operators had suffered heavy losses after authorities failed to prevent KSRTC buses from operating services on certain routes'

The Private Bus Operators Confederation has decided to go on an indefinite strike from September 25 to press its various demands including a fare hike for all sections including students.

Addressing a press conference in Kochi on Monday after a meeting of five affiliated organisations, Lawrence Babu, general secretary of the Kerala State Private Bus Operators Federation, said that the State government should fix the minimum charge at Rs.7 and increase the existing kilometre rate by 10 paise in view of the recent hike in diesel price.

Stating that private bus operators would not be able to operate services without increasing the fare for students, the general secretary said that the State authorities should allow the bus owners to collect 50 per cent of the existing minimum charge (Rs.5) as ticket rate for students.

The bus operators urged the government to introduce a transport policy that would mitigate their problems and provide for the healthy existence of private and State players.

They cite heavy loss

Mr. Babu said that private bus operators had suffered heavy losses after the authorities failed to prevent Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses from operating services on certain routes without adhering to any time schedule.

The confederation requested the government not to enforce the directive regarding the scrapping of buses registered 15 or more years ago.

The number of private buses operating services in the State had come down to nearly 14,000 from about 34,000 five years ago. Private operators would be forced to withdraw from the scene if the authorities insisted on enforcing the above rule. The condition of buses should be assesses rather than going by an age rule, he said.

Office-bearers of the Kerala State Private Bus Operators’ Federation, the All-Kerala Bus Operators’ Forum, Limited Stop Bus Operators’ Association, Kerala Bus Transport Association, and Kerala Bus Operators’ Association were present during the meeting.