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Kolkata's Private Bus Owners Propose Three Times Hike in Fares to Ensure Social Distance

Image for representation. (Reuters)

Image for representation. (Reuters)

At a meeting of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicates, it was decided that fares will have to go up by Rs 5 for every consecutive stage in order to meet the cost of running the vehicles, its secretary Tapan Banerjee said on Thursday.

Private bus operators in Kolkata have readied a proposal to raise the minimum fare to Rs 20, which is nearly three times the current Rs 7, as they look to restart services adhering to the social distancing norms.

At a meeting of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicates, it was decided that fares will have to go up by Rs 5 for every consecutive stage in order to meet the cost of running the vehicles, its secretary Tapan Banerjee said on Thursday.

The Transport Department will be informed of the decision, he said.

Transport minister Suvendu Adhikary had on Wednesday held a meeting with private bus operators in the city and districts for restarting services in non-containment areas.

The minister asked them to propose hikes in fares which will be viable for them in order to ply the vehicles with 20 passengers so that social distance can be maintained in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It was decided that Rs 20 will be charged per passenger for the first 4 km, Rs 25 for 5 to 8 km, Rs 30 for 9 to 12 km, Rs 35 for 13 to 16 km, Rs 40 for 17 to 25 km and Re 1 for every kilometre after that," he said.

At present, the fares rise by Rs 1-2 every stage. He said these rates would be applicable to Kolkata

Metropolitan Area (KMA).

For the districts, the proposed fare is Rs 20 for the first 4 km and Rs 1.50 for every kilometre after that for ordinary buses, while for express buses the fares would be Rs 20 for the first 6 km and Rs 2 for every consecutive kilometre of the journey, Banerjee said.

For air-conditioned buses, the fare proposed is Rs 50 for the first 6 km and Rs 2.50 for every kilometre after that, he said.

Banerjee said that the minister conveyed to them that restarting bus services in non-containment areas of KMA is being actively considered.

Private bus operators in the state had not shown much interest in running buses in the green zones with 20 passengers, claiming that it would lead to huge losses.

Even doubling of fares for the private buses, which were allowed to ply in intra-district routes in green zones, failed to persuade the owners, who claimed that a 45-seater bus carries on an average 60 to 70 passengers with scope for standing and it would not be enough for meeting the costs.

first published:May 14, 2020, 16:20 IST