Private bus operators seek 15 per cent increase

Several organisations and commuters on Saturday opposed revision in bus fare as sought by private bus operators at a meeting held by the Regional Transport Authority. The Canara Bus Operators Association and the Dakshina Kannada Bus Operators’ Association sought 15 per cent increase in the existing fare.

Opposing the revision, bus commuter Sadananda said there was no justification for the private bus operators to seek an increase in bus fare. “The price of diesel has increased by only Rs. 5. There is also some increase in the price of tyres. But this cannot be the reason for such a steep hike. The private bus operators are actually making profit,” Mr. Sadananda said. He complained about the way the commuters were being herded in buses during peak hours. “We are just treated as cattle,” he said.

Mohammed Rafiq, who represented the drivers and conductors, said they are being forced to pack commuters into the buses. “If we do not oblige, we will run the risk of being assaulted,” Mr. Rafiq said. He was however in favour of a marginal increase in the bus fare. K. Ramachandra, an elderly commuter from Someshwar, explained problems faced because of overcrowding of buses on route No. 44A.

“The buses are always full with passengers from both ends. We have got used to the rude way in which we are asked to go inside the bus,” said Mr. Ramachandra while asking for more buses on the route. “I request the authority to allow operation of more buses, including the KSRTC,” he said. Hanumanth Kamath from Nagarika Hitarakshna Vedike, said with an increase of 15 per cent a commuter will have to pay Rs. 6 more for a to-and-fro journey. “For a month this will be an additional burden of Rs. 180. For those in the private sector this will be a steep hike,” he said.

The minimum fare fixed by the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation was less than the fare charged by the private operators, he said.

In their defence, an advocate representing the Canara Bus Operators’ Association said the proposed fare was in accordance with the State Government notification issued in 2010.

The advocate said commuters would not be put to hardship as the minimum wages received by a labourer a day in Mangalore was around Rs. 300. Many commuters and consumer organisations raised objection to advocate’s statement on the minimum wage.

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