Tiruchirapalli

Transport Minister downplays speculation over bus fare hike

Transport Minister S. Sivasankar takes a selfie with students after inaugurating a bus service on Monday. Perambalur Collector P. Sri Venkada Priya is also seen in the picture.

Transport Minister S. Sivasankar takes a selfie with students after inaugurating a bus service on Monday. Perambalur Collector P. Sri Venkada Priya is also seen in the picture.

Transport Minister S. S. Sivasankar on Monday sought to downplay speculation over bus fare hike in the State stating that Chief Minister M.K. Stalin had not ‘given any advice’ to increase the fares so far.

He attributed the speculation to a chart prepared by officials on the fares in force in some neighbouring States that is to be adopted for buses operating on inter-State routes from Tamil Nadu. “Some of the neighbouring states such as Kerala and Andhra Pradesh had hiked bus fares in the recent past. Our State Transport Corporation buses operating to these States have to adopt the fares when plying in those States as per the inter-State agreements. This chart has become the talking point now,” Mr. Sivasankar said.

He was speaking to reporters in Perambalur after flagging off a new bus service to Veppur Government College of Arts and Science for Women from Ariyalur.

Conceding that the State transport corporations were faced with severe financial crises, Mr. Sivasankar said the Corporations had debts to the tune of ₹48,500 crore. Besides, the almost daily revision of the diesel prices was posing a huge challenge. “We continue to manage and operate despite the constraints as public transport is an essential service. The Chief Minister has instructed that there should be no compromise on public services.”

The government bore the cost of free bus rides for women and students in the State. So far, women had made about 109 crore free trips under the initiative, which entailed an annual expenditure of about ₹1,600 crore. The State government was providing the funds for the scheme and for the free bus passes to students as well.

Responding to a query on the poor condition of some buses of the State Transport Corporations, the Minister said 500 electric buses besides 2,000 diesel buses would be purchased soon with financial assistance from KfW, the development bank of Germany, to replace ageing vehicles in the fleet. The tendering process would be completed soon and the buses would hit the roads within six or seven months. This apart, repairs were being carried on vehicles so that the safety of passengers was ensured.

Answering a query on complaints of collection of exorbitant fares by omni bus operators during festival seasons and holidays in the State, Mr. Sivasankar said the department was trying to find a solution to the long-time issue by leveraging technology.


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Printable version | Jun 18, 2022 8:07:13 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/transport-minister-downplays-speculation-over-bus-fare-hike/article65419715.ece