Special Correspondent

Plan to hike minimum fare to Rs.4, students’ fare may go up

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala committee of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) has given its clearance for a hike in bus fares to cushion impact of the sharp increase in the prices of petroleum products.

The Transport Department had presented a proposal for increasing the bus fares consequent to the steep hike in the price of diesel. However, given the sensitivity of the issue, a decision on the proposal was deferred till the LDF committee took a decision in the matter. The proposal envisaged increase in the minimum fare from Rs.3 to Rs.4 and the fare a kilometre to 8 paise for ordinary buses and 5 paise in the case of fast passenger and super fast buses. The students’ concession fare will be increased by 25 p.c. of the revised fare.

More expenditure

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has been incurring an additional expenditure of Rs. 5 crore a month on account of the diesel price hike, taking its monthly loss to Rs. 24 crore. The diesel price increase had come at a very inappropriate moment for the KSRTC which was slowly moving towards operating profit after remaining in deep red for several years now.

Transport Minister Mathew T. Thomas, who briefed the LDF State committee meeting about the bus fare hike proposal, told The Hindu here on Saturday that the fare hike was proposed as there was no way to pull on.

Going by current indications, the bus fare hike will in all probability be cleared by the Cabinet coming Wednesday and will, naturally, benefit both the KSRTC and the private bus operators, who have already given notice for a strike to press for higher fares. This is for the first time that the LDF government is going in for a fare hike though there had been two increases in diesel price after it came to power. The UDF government had raised the bus fares three times during its tenure (2001-06). The fares were raised on October 1, 2001, by 35 paise a kilometre, on September 16, 2004, by 42 paise a kilometre and on November 24, 2005, by 48 paise a kilometre.