BMTC had earlier introduced a rule that only pass holders would be allowed to commute in its buses.

bmtc bus lane bangalore at a traffic stop on ring road
Coronavirus Transport Monday, May 25, 2020 - 19:41

The Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has decided to introduce a revised fare rate after it received severe flak for allowing only pass holders to ride in its buses. When the BMTC began operating its buses last week, instead of selling tickets, BMTC had imposed a pass-only rule.

Each daily pass would cost Rs 70 for daily passes and the weekly pass was priced at Rs 300. This new method was introduced so that passengers won’t have to come into contact with conductors while exchanging tickets and cash. However, the decision was faced with flak as many who are poor could not afford to buy passes.

The BMTC in a press release stated that the fares will be almost the same as before, except the change that the fares will be rounded up to the closest multiple of five, to “minimise cash handling as collection and return of small change will be avoided.” This is also being done in a bid to ensure there is not too much contact with bus conductors and passengers.

The new fares have been restructured into 6 fare slabs from the existing 16 slabs. Up to 2 km, the price is Rs 5 per ticket. For distances between 3 and 4 km, the price is Rs 10, between 5 and 6km it is Rs 15, between 7 and 14 km it is Rs 20, between 15 and 40 km, the price is Rs 25, and for those travelling over 40 km, the ticket price is Rs 30 per ticket.

The BMTC is also undertaking a digital ticketing or QR code-based system for people to buy tickets without contact by paying online. BMTC says that the system has been implemented in 750 buses so far, and will be expanded to all buses within the next fortnight.

At the same time, for those who are interested, the monthly, weekly and daily passes will be issued as per existing rates and procedures.

BMTC also noted that to board the bus, passengers need to pay exact change for buying tickets in order to minimise contact. Passengers also need to compulsorily wear facemasks and maintain personal hygiene while travelling in buses.

As before, BMTC noted that only seating passengers will be allowed, and no standing passengers will be allowed, in order to reduce contact. The operation of buses will also be extended to its full capacity of 3500 buses, as against the 2000 buses which were being operated earlier.

BMTC had resumed services in Bengaluru from April 19 onwards, after the lockdown was eased.

Read: Bengaluru’s BMTC to rethink ‘only pass’ policy

The Bengaluru Bus Prayanaikara Vedike (BBPV), a citizen’s body for bus commuters, said that they “welcome BMTC's move to reintroduce daily tickets for bus commute.” This will provide immediate relief to large sections of commuters excluded or burdened by the high cost of daily commute due to Rs 70 day pass being the only option for daily travel.

However, they reserved their criticism saying that, “These revised fares however do not address the issues of urban poor during the COVID crisis as they are left with little money and are staring at greater economic distress. To address this concern, we ask the state government to support BMTC to enable a further reduction in fares. The fare structure proposed by BBPV (5 Rs for upto 10 kms, 10 Rs for upto 20 kms and 15 Rs for trips above 20 kms) may be more appropriate for a time like this.”

BBPV also asked the government to issue passes for people from the poorest communities so that they may commute to work at ease. “BMTC is providing free passes to construction workers. If a lower fare structure is not possible, we strongly urge the state govt and BMTC to come up with a mechanism to extend the free passes to other vulnerable sections such as domestic workers, street vendors, garment workers and others.”