The Kerala government today announced the decision to hike bus fares with effect from May 20. A cabinet meeting held on Wednesday decided to raise the minimum fare for ordinary services from Rs 6 to Rs 7. The minimum fare for fast passenger services will be Rs 10, up from Rs 8.
Briefing the fare hike, minister for Transport Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said the state cabinet had approved the recommendations of the Justice C Ramachandran commission, which studied the hike in bus fares. The committee had submitted its report to the government in the last December, whereas the decision on fare hike was pending with the government for the last five months. The committee had proposed a minimum fare of Rs 7 in ordinary buses.
According to the cabinet decision, the per kilometre charge for ordinary services will be 64 paise from the current 58 paise. The fare per kilometre for fast passenger services has been increased by 6 paise to 68 paise. For super fast services, the revised fare is 72 paise (up from 65 paise), for super deluxe 88 paise (up from 80 paise) and for AC Volvo per km it will be Rs 1.30 (up from Rs 1.20). The charge for the newly commenced multi-axle services will be Rs 1.91.
The new minimum fare regime represents an across-the-board hike ranging from 3 to 10 per cent per km for various classes of services. Accordingly, for super fast services, the minimum charge will go up to Rs 13 from the current Rs 12. For super express, this will be Rs 20 from Rs 17, super deluxe Rs 28 from Rs 25 and for AC Volvo this will be Rs 40 from the current rate of Rs 35. For multi-axle services, the minimum charge will be Rs 70.
While the commission had recommended an increase of 5 paise per km for ordinary services, the government increased 6 paise. However, the government has not revised the concessional fares for students despite facing strong pressure from bus operators to withdraw the concessions to students. The cabinet has appointed Justice Ramachandran to submit a report on the revision of students concession fares in three months.
The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) would now get an additional daily revenue of Rs 50 lakh and the monthly collections would increase by Rs 15 crore, the minister said. Currently, KSRTC’s monthly revenues are Rs 120 crore.
The hike comes against the backdrop of nearly 22 per cent rise in the price of diesel since November, 2012. Diesel price, which stood at Rs 48.75 per litre is selling at Rs 60 now, the transport minister said. Kerala had last revised the fares in November 2012.
Prior to the latest hike, in November, 2012, the per km charge was increased from 55 paise to 58 paise. Currently, Kerala charges the highest fare in south India. In Tamil Nadu, the per km fare is 42 paise and the minimum charge is Rs 3. The minimum bus charge in Karnataka is at Rs 4.50.
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The private bus owners of Kerala, and KSRTC have been demanding the fare hike for the last one year, but the government postponed its decision due to political considerations.. The two organisations of the private bus operators in Kerala in the past have staged several token strikes and have recently announced an indefinite strike unless the fares were not increased.
Private bus operators have demanded a minimum fare of Rs 10, but the government has not conceded to this.
Meanwhile, bus operators expressed dissatisfaction over the quantum of hike. Leaders of All Kerala Bus Operators Confederation said they would go on with the agitations against the government. They said the minimum charge should be Rs 10 and the concession fares for students should also be revised.