Five private bus unions have sought immediate intervention of West Bengal Transport minister Snehasis Chakraborty on the fare hike issue.
The last fare revision was done in 2018, the five unions said and urged the government for talks for immediate fare revision. The five bus unions are West Bengal Bus and Minibus Owners Association (WBBMOA), Joint Council of Bus Syndicates (JCBS), Bengal Bus Syndicate (BBS), Minibus Owners Co-ordination Committee (MOCC), Intra Region Bus Association (IRBS), general secretary of WBBMOA Pradip Narayan Bose told PTI on Tuesday.
”The private bus-minibus industry has gone in comatose condition due to factors like non-increase of bus fare by the transport department in past five years. The last fare revision had been done on July 8, 2018.The situation has turned worse after the pandemic when more than fifty per cent of the fleet in different routes in the city and state have gone off the roads. The proliferation of auto and e-rickshaws, in different stretches, covering the bus stops of all the routes have literally sounded the death knell,” Bose said.
”In the present situation all these five bus owners associations have come together to speak about the problems in one unified voice. If the state does not take any decision about hike in fares on an immediate basis, in a rational manner and if the unregulated entry of autorickshaws and totos (e rickshaws) are not checked, the day will come when buses and minibuses won’t be seen in roads any more,” he added.
The state had fixed the base fare rate of Rs 7 in 2018 when the price of diesel was Rs 65 per litre in the metropolis. Diesel price has now gone to Rs 92 per litre and spare parts to run the vehicle have also spiralled. How can it be possible to keep the base fare rate at Rs 7-8 any more, he said.
Tapan Bandyopadhyay of the JCBS said the decision to scrap buses-mini buses more than 15 years old, toll tax and order to install vehicle tracking device has made it further difficult for the bus owners who cannot make both ends meet.
The five unions have urged the government to sit for talks immediately by this month and take effective measures, ”not sitting over the issue.” Bose said from 44,000 contract carriages plying in the state before 2018, the number has come down to 27,000 and decreasing further.
The Transport minister could not be contacted.