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Updated: June 27, 2010 14:48 IST

Bus commute costlier than autos?

Anil Kumar Sastry
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With the rise in bus fares, it now appears to be more economical to use your own vehicle or hire one, depending on the circumstances.

If three people are to travel for a short distance, hiring an autorickshaw at the minimum fare of Rs. 14 is cheaper than paying Rs. 12 (Rs. 4 each) to travel by bus, said S. Madaiah, a resident of Kengeri. Autorickshaw travel is convenient too as it offers an end-to-end solution.

Similarly, V. Ramesh Kumar, a private firm employee, pointed out that a two-wheeler is more economical than a bus if one's workplace is within 10 km from home. It works out even cheaper when there is a pillion rider too, he said.

The stages

Though the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has designed chargeable stages for every two kilometres, in reality these stages work out to be less than one km, particularly within the city. For example, though the distance between Kimco Junction (Mysore Road) and Majestic is about six km, the applicable fare is Rs. 12 (after revision), at the rate of six stages.

Commuters who boarded BMTC buses on Saturday morning found themselves paying an extra rupee for the ticket. M. Sankappa, a construction labourer, rued that a quarter of his day's earnings is spent on bus fare. “Living has become difficult,” he sighed.

Dichotomy

There appears a clear dichotomy in the thought and action of governments regarding public transport. On the one hand, governments — Centre as well State — have been exhorting people to use public transport. On the other, they have left the road transport corporations to fend for themselves.

These utilities have little option but to hike fares whenever fuel prices go up. Worldwide, governments heavily subsidise public transport operators, whether private or otherwise, paying for mobility of people to boost the economy.

Small change

Except funding acquisition of buses and construction of a few bus station complexes under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNURM), the Central and State governments have offered little to the public transport sector.

The transport operators are not given any exemption or concession in taxes and duties for the purchase of buses, fuel and other inputs.

Potential untapped

Though transport corporations own vast extents of land in Bangalore and elsewhere in the State, neither have they exploited the commercial potential of property nor have they been given free hand by the Government to do so.

BMTC's travel and transit management centres (TTMCs) were in fact supposed to cushion the effects of fuel hikes for the corporation.

Not finalised

While the Jayanagar TTMC is yet to be occupied by tenants, BMTC and the Transport Department are still to finalise the modality of letting out space in nine other TTMCs due for completion by July-end.

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