The recent hike in the fares of the buses operated by the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has severely hit the working class population leave alone the economically weaker sections of the society.

Defending the fare hike, the BMTC has said that though the revenue for the corporation has increased in the last year by nearly Rs. 240 crores, the corporation is in fact in the “red” having suffered a loss of Rs. 137 crores. BMTC officials claim the hike in high speed diesel oil prices and the overall establishment cost are the main causative factors for the loss.

The corporation has also estimated a steep increase in the cost of operations of around Rs. 140 crores in the coming year. Thus, to generate appropriate earnings, the interests of commuters have been effectively ignored and the people are being compelled to pay for no valid reason. It is common knowledge that a fare hike is pushed through on every occasion diesel prices are marginally increased.

However, is it correct to have profitability as the yardstick to measure the success of a public transport system which has largely been constituted to serve the people. Commuters argue that the reach of its service and safety should be the measure to rate a public bus transport corporation.

While the government takes up programmes to encourage public transport, its policies are making BMTC less affordable, experts argue.

Many cite the example of Namma Metro and criticise the lopsided priority of the government.

While Namma Metro, even after its completion, would serve less than a fifth of the passengers that BMTC caters to, it should be noted that metro rail is highly subsidised in contrast to the BMTC.

Others suggest a graded BMTC fare policy, where BMTC charges significantly more in Volvo AC buses and cross subsidises fares on regular buses, which are used by all sections of the society.

Meanwhile, activists of the Bangalore Bus Prayanikara Vedike have been campaigning for radical restructuring of bus fares to make it affordable to the common man.

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