The Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) is set to reduce bus fares in a move to make public transport more attractive and decongest roads in the city.
"Bus fares will be reduced. The exact details are being worked and it will be finalised in the next few days," Deepak N, an official with BMTC told TNM.
The decision to reduce fares come after a meeting involving officials of BMTC, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), and Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) on Wednesday. The meeting was chaired by Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting Yediyurappa announced that BMTC's fleet of buses will be increased with the addition of 6,000 buses in a phased manner. Currently, BMTC operates 6,491 buses in the city and is in the process of phasing out 1,000 old buses. As of today, the the monthly pass costs Rs 925 for non-AC buses.
The decisions were welcomed by civic groups in the city. "We hope the Chief Minister subsidies bus fares by 50%. All over the world bus fares are heavily subsidised because investment in bus is investment in public health. It was recently done in Mumbai and Delhi. Even when the BMTC did a pilot, the volume (of commuters) increased. If bus fares are low and they are reliable and fast, there will be even more people taking the bus thereby adding to the revenues of BMTC", Srinivas Alavilli, co-founder of Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB), a citizen group, said.
Citizens for Bengaluru along with Bengaluru Bus Prayaneekara Vedike (BBPV), a collective that campaigns for better public transport services, organised a public campaign in 2017 with two simple demands - 'halve the fares, double the fleet'. A bus yatra was held by civic groups and residents on 7 March 2017 to highlight the need for policy intervention for supporting public transport. BMTC piloted a programme in 2017 in which the AC Vajra bus fare was reduced by 37%. This resulted in a 42% increase in the number of commuters.
In 2018, BBPV highlighted that bus fares in Bengaluru was costlier than a bus ride in several other Indian cities including Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chandigarh, New Delhi, Chennai and Pune.
A bus priority lane was piloted for the first time in October. The state government has decided to start priority bus lanes in 12 areas of the city with high traffic. Buses will get priority access over private transport especially two-wheelers and in the process motivate people to use public transport.