Monday, December 29, 2008

Hike in AC bus fares

Commuters travelling in BEST’s air-conditioned buses may soon have to loosen their purse strings, as the authority has proposed an increase in fares on all tickets and passes.

The BEST plies over 45 lakh passengers each day. While it has not increased ticket fares for single journey trips in regular buses fearing an outcry, a hike has been proposed to in all other categories

With monthly and quarterly passes already available, BEST recently introduced daily passes, which could be used to travel in the main city, only in the suburbs or throughout Mumbai. The BEST sells an average of 2.5 lakh daily passes every day, which seek to attract those who travel in cabs and autorickshaws.

The hike proposed in each category is Rs 5 for a daily pass, Rs 100 for a monthly pass, Rs 300 for quarterly pass and Rs 1,000 for an annual pass on ordinary buses. Passes for the newly introduced Kinglong buses and AC buses will also be increased.

AC bus tickets will also be hiked. The current minimum fare on these buses is Rs 10 until the first 5 km. The proposal aims to hike it to Rs 15 after the first 2 km and up to 5 km. Fares in subsequent slabs would also be hiked similarly.

The transport department has been in a loss for the last 10-15 years and its operating costs too have been increasing.

The undertaking has been claiming subsidies from the government for its transport sector. “The prices of diesel have come down. Every month the undertaking has been submitting a statistical report showing an increase in the number of passengers.

What is rationale behind hiking fares?’’ said Congress corporator and BEST committee member Ravi Raja.

The proposal must first be approved by the BEST committee, which comprises elected corporators, but with the elections a few months away the ruling Shiv Sena may join hands with Congress to scuttle the move.

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