Panel to look into fare hike demand by private bus and minibus operators

Firhad Hakim

A three-member committee will look into the demands by private bus and minibus operators to increase the fares, transport minister Firhad Hakim said on Monday.

“The committee will draw up its report within three months,” he said.

The committee will be headed by the secretary of the transport department. The other two members are senior officials of the finance and the transport departments.

Since the onset of the pandemic, private bus and minibus operators have been demanding an upward fare revision because of low passenger count. The demand gathered steam recently as the price of diesel shot through the roof.

Diesel sold at Rs 89.12 a litre in Calcutta on Monday, up by over Rs 15 a litre over the last six months. Around this time last year, diesel sold at Rs 65.61 a litre in the city.

“The price of the fuel has gone up by nearly Rs 24 a litre within a year while the passenger count has dropped,” said Tapan Bandyopadhyay of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicates. “It makes little sense to run buses now.”

Following last year’s lockdown, the government has stood by the bus operators, waiving the penalty for not renewing the fitness certificate, driving licence and the road permit. While the move came as a relief, it did little to address the main woes of bus owners, who were bleeding from a sharp drop in passenger footfall.

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