The increase in bus fare has severely affected the poor students from marginalized communities.

Students protest on road by blocking vehiclesStudents of Swaero Students Union protesting in Hyderabad
news Ticket fare hike Monday, June 13, 2022 - 18:44

Twenty-year-old Sashi* (name changed), a student of Nizam College in Hyderabad, is among the many students who are deeply worried about the recent bus fare revision by the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation. “The new rates are unreasonably high. I am wondering if I should start walking to the college everyday. There is no other way,” laments the second-year psychology student.

Belonging to a poor agricultural family, Sashi is pursuing his studies by staying in the government-run Scheduled Tribes welfare hostel in Amberpet. “I use the public bus facility for my daily commute to the college, but I do not know if I should renew my pass with the new price rate,” he says. Without much pocket money to sustain himself, he will now have to walk a distance of 7 km if he has to study, he adds.

“If I tell my parents that I have a monthly expenditure of Rs 500 per month towards bus fare, they will simply ask me to come back to the village and do some work there. It is not that they do not want me to study. But if I ask for Rs 500 every month, they will see my education as an unnecessary burden. This is what the government is doing. Whatever be their intentions, they are effectively putting an end to the education of students from poor families,” Sashi says.

The bus fare was revised on June 8. From the existing monthly fare of Rs 195, the subsidised bus pass has been increased to Rs 450, an increase of Rs 255, which is about 130.77%. The hike is supposed to compensate for the diesel cess, according to the TSRTC management.

But the ‘unfair’ hike has been inviting protests from several student organisations, particularly from the students belonging to marginalised communities. On Sunday, students belonging to Swaero Students Union (SSU), an association of students who belong to Dalit-Bahujan communities, protested at various bus depots in Hyderabad against the hike. 

Ravi, a first-year PG student and a member of SSU, says, “With the money I have to pay for a bus pass now, I could have travelled for three months earlier. The pass also works only for ordinary buses and there are very few ordinary buses too. The present rates are unjustifiable. How can a student from a marginalised community afford to pay such money,” he asks. 

The TSRTC, which is running on losses, had scrapped 4,177 buses between 2014 to 2021 after the life of the buses expired. However, they only added 1,800 new buses between these years. As part of the agitation called by SSU, Ravi had expressed his protest at the Dilsukhnagar bus depot.

G Anusha, another student from Kamala Nehru Polytechnic for Women College says, “My parents together make a monthly income of around Rs 16,000. If they have to ensure that both my brother and I continue to study, they will have to spend Rs 1,000 every month on our bus fare alone. Along with that, there will be several other expenses like our tuition fee, books etc. How can they afford to educate us with their little earnings? They already spend half their salary on our education. Does this government intend to discourage students from pursuing higher education,” she asks.  

While students have been expressing their disappointment over the TSRTC’s decision, TSRTC Managing Director VC Sajjanar has justified the increase in the fare. “Minor increases were made over the years. This hike has been introduced keeping in mind the hike in various bus maintenance charges,” he told News Meter.  

Along with the student groups, political parties like the Congress and the BJP have also expressed their protest against the hike. On Sunday, Congress leader Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, while condemning the increase in bus fare, urged Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to revoke the fresh tariff. 

After learning of the plight of the students, the Students’ Federation of India has been organising meetings with the students. “We condemn these revisions. It is absolutely unjustified. How will a student from a poor family afford these rates? The SFI will soon plan an agitation on this front. We are already having meetings in this regard,” says T Nagaraju, SFI, Telangana State Secretary.

   

 
Topic tags,
Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.