No free bus passes for students in Karnataka, ticket fares likely to go up

Transport Minister DC Thammana said that free bus passes wouldn’t be issued as the BMTC is reeling under losses.
No free bus passes for students in Karnataka, ticket fares likely to go up
No free bus passes for students in Karnataka, ticket fares likely to go up
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In a move that will affect thousands of students in the state, Karnataka Transport Minister DC Thammana announced on Tuesday that the Transport Department won’t be issuing free bus passes this year. He said this was due to the losses that BMTC is reeling under.

The students were promised free bus passes by former CM SIddaramaiah in his last Budget in February. While free bus passes were earlier restricted to students of the SC/ST category, the Siddaramaiah-led government in February had announced that all students in the state will be able to avail the scheme.

After the Congress-JD(S) combine came to power, it repeatedly maintained that all welfare schemes put in place by the Siddaramaiah government would be continued in the state. However, the Budget announced by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy did not mention this promise.

Student organisations across the state had made their case for free bus passes and had also met with Kumaraswamy on the issue. Strikes were also held in many parts of the state demanding the bus passes be provided, but to no avail.

Transport Minister Thamanna also hinted that bus fares might be increased if the high fuel prices continue.

"Since this is a public transport system, we have no choice but to offer concessional fares. But BMTC is running under heavy losses and increasing the bus fare is inevitable," he told the media on Tuesday.

In order to compensate for losses due to high fuel prices, both officials of the Karnataka State Road Transport corporation and the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation(BMTC) had asked the government to increase bus fares by 18-20%.

The Transport Department was also mulling an additional 2% cess on property tax across Bengaluru to alleviate the losses faced by it. However, the resolution to it is yet to be discussed by the BBMP council and is unlikely to be passed as the BJP, which has higher numbers in the council, will oppose the resolution.


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