The minimum charges for Kerala's private buses have increased by 25 percent. Now, for 5 kilometers, passengers will have to pay Rs 10 and Rs 13 for more than 7.5 kilometers. Earlier, Rs 8 was charged for 5 kilometres, but the revised policy would allow bus operators to charge Rs 8 for 2.5 kilometres. However, these hiked charges will only be applicable to those who travel over 2.5 kilometres.
The Transport Ministry had proposed Rs 10 as the minimum charge, but the Kerala Cabinet decided on the new revised charges on Wednesday.
The new charges will be applicable from Thursday onwards. The private bus operators' association had demanded a raise in the minimum charges to Rs 10. Since the lockdown has been relaxed, buses have been allowed to ply once more, but operators were demanding an increase in charges due to poor transport revenue as a result of the pandemic.
Protests occurred across Kerala in recent weeks. In some parts of the state, particularly rural areas, buses stopped running due to the small number of passengers. Associations had earlier warned that they would stop operations for a year if charges weren't increased.
The present hike in charges was based on a report by the Justice Ramachandran commission. The commission had recommended 30 to 50% hike in its report, considering the present scenario. Though the commission had recommended a 50% hike in the student concessions, that was not approved by the Cabinet.
Kerala state transportation incurred a loss of Rs 37 crore as they began operations after the lockdown. Initially, their minimum fare was also increased to Rs 12. But later, when more relaxations were introduced, the minimum charge was set at Rs 8.