‘Shared taxis, two-wheelers more convenient than buses’: B'luru commuters on fare hike

On Thursday, Bangalore Bus Prayanikara Vedike set up a ‘Commuter's Ballot’ station at Kempegowda Bus Station, to take commuter’s opinion on whether they should pay more for their bus tickets.
‘Shared taxis, two-wheelers more convenient than buses’: B'luru commuters on fare hike
‘Shared taxis, two-wheelers more convenient than buses’: B'luru commuters on fare hike
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As the hike in bus fares have been temporarily withheld in Karnataka, bus users forum Bangalore Bus Prayanikara Vedike (BBPV) has stepped up its activism to not only oppose the hike but also demand a reduction in fares. On Thursday, they set up a ‘Commuter's Ballot’ station at city’s central bus terminus, Kempegowda Bus Station, to take the commuter's vote on whether they should pay more for their bus tickets.

 Out of 569 bus users who took part in the survey, 543 people (95%) voted against the fare hike, while 25 (5%) voted in favour of the hike. According to the voters, shared cabs and autos are easily available and two-wheelers offer quicker and more convenient service than Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) and are sometimes even cheaper for shorter journeys. 

In fact, there has been a decline in the ridership for BMTC over the years. While in 2013-14, the daily ridership was pegged at 50 lakh, the number now has come down to around 45 lakh.

BBPV pointed out that 45 lakh people commute by bus on a daily basis and a fare hike will have a further negative impact on the ridership.

CHART of bus fares across the country

Vinay Sreenivasa, a member of BBPV, said, “Several states across the country subsidise public transport. We want the Karnataka government to similarly fund capital costs of BMTC as it does for the metro to the tune of thousands of crores. This will help BMTC reduce fares and attract more commuters, thereby reducing congestion. Additionally, the urban poor, who commute on foot, can also rely on buses at times. Overall, social benefits to the city will increase.”

He added, “Earlier when BMTC hiked fares, its revenue fell since the ridership went down. Therefore, hiking fares will lead to a drop in ridership and hurt BMTC in the long run and also increase congestion.”

In Mumbai, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) subsidies Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST), which is a cross-subsidy model where the revenue from electricity operations will be used for transport. In Tamil Nadu, the state government pays salaries of Road Transport Corporation employees, while in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the state governments reimburse taxes like MV tax.

Urban mobility experts like Ashish Verma, a professor of sustainable transportation at the Indian Institute of Science, have been suggesting a reduction in bus fares to arrest the rise in the number of private vehicles on the road, which causes a traffic gridlock in the city.

Over the years, Bengaluru has recorded a massive spike in private vehicles. In 2006, the number of new vehicles registered was 28,41,000, while until September 2018, the number stood at 75,66,109.

While Bengaluru currently has more than 70 lakh vehicles, according to estimates, the city will have 1.08 crore vehicles by 2022.

Incidentally, in a statement, Transport Commissioner VP Ikkeri told The Times of India, “Traffic density has not reduced even after the Metro became operational. In fact, it has caused more traffic congestion around these stations. While it carries about 4 lakh passengers every day, the roads around the stations are clogged due to illegal parking.”

The Transport Department had been mulling a steep hike of 18% in ticket prices for all the state government-run bus corporations, including Bangalore Transport Transport Corporation, owing to the continuous rise in fuel prices. The Transport Minister DC Thamanna had long before said that both the corporations were waiting for the CM’s nod to make the price hike official. However, on the back of CM HD Kumaraswamy’s decision to reduce fuel price, the fare hike has been withheld.

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