There will be no hike in fares of buses as demanded by private operators for running their vehicles with a maximum 20 passengers, maintaining
social distancing norms over the Covid-19 pandemic, West Bengal Transport minister Suvendu Adhikari said here on Saturday.
He said that as per the directive of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee not to burden the general public during the prevailing situation, it has been decided not to increase fares of public transport in the state.
The minister said that government buses will be operated on all important routes in and around the city and also in other parts of the state to provide transportation solution for those going to work or in any kind of emergency.
Adhikari said that buses and taxis will ply only between 7am and 7pm of a day in the red and orange zones, while there would be no such restriction in the green zones.
He said that at present 15 routes are being operated in the city by West Bengal Transport Corporation, which will be increased and better frequency will also be ensured.
The minister said that the transport department will allow 1,000 app cabs to ply in Kolkata from Monday. So far, only 200 such cabs were allowed to operate in the city for transporting passengers in emergency, he said.
The cabs will be allowed to carry only two passengers, both of whom would be required to sit in the back seat. He said that running of trams, waterways transportation and inter-district bus services are under active consideration and decision on these would be taken soon.
The Joint Council of Bus Syndicates, which held a meeting with Transport department officials earlier this week for recommencing private bus services in Kolkata Metropolitan Area (KMA), had demanded an almost three-fold hike in fares from Rs 7 to Rs 20 as base fare for ordinary buses and similar increase as per distance travelled.
The transport department has stipulated that a maximum of 20 passengers can be carried in a bus at a time. Though the state government wanted to restart private bus services in green zones in intra-district routes from the beginning of the third lockdown period, none of the operators exuded interest, claiming that it would lead to huge losses.
The minister said that the government is taking a graded approach in restoring normalcy and as such restarting autorickshaw services would be considered later.