In the wake of media reports suggesting that bus fares in Karnataka will be increased owing to the continuous rise in fuel prices, the Bangalore Bus Prayanikara Vedike (BBPV) submitted a memorandum to the Transport Minister DC Thammanna urging the government to reduce fares.
In the memorandum submitted to the minister on Wednesday, the commuters’ forum questioned why people who do not contribute to congestion or pollution will be penalised for no fault of theirs. “We said that while diesel fare hike is understandably a burden on the BMTC, it cannot be passed on to commuters. We urged him to seek financial support from the state government,” Vinay Sreenivasa, member of BBPV said.
“We shared with him that given that the government funds several other projects to the tune of 1000s of crores of rupees, it was unfair to not support the BMTC which caters to the poor and working class of the city,” he added.
BBPV argued that further increase of ticket prices will harm not only the commuters but also Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) and the city as a whole. Incidentally, bus fares in Bengaluru are the highest in the country, with the median fare. Citizen-activists have in the past pointed out that unlike in most other states, the BMTC is expected to make profits rather than getting subsidies from the government. It is also cheaper for people to use their two-wheelers instead of the bus at existing fares.
BBPV in its statement said the minister agreed that the state government must support BMTC financially and that the higher proportion spent on other projects is unfair.
In its memorandum to the Transport Minister, the bus users’ forum pointed out that despite less investments, BMTC caters to a larger number of people and hence, needs financial support from the government.
BBPV goes on to point out that while the cost of building Metro Phase 1 was Rs 14,404,01 crore for 42 km, it caters to a daily ridership of only 4 lakh people even though the detailed project report pegged the ridership to be at 10 lakh. But the BMTC even in its current form records a ridership of more than 45 lakh. Year after year, BMTC is made to wait for funds to acquire new buses, reads its statement.
The BBPV further pointed out that BMTC faced further loss in revenue as many people stopped using the bus after the previous price hike in April 2017 as those who can afford switched to motorbikes while others who can’t, chose walking or cycling.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Deputy CM G Parameshwara speaking about the traffic problem in the city highlighted the growth of private vehicles in Bengaluru. Citing official data, he said while in 2006 the number of new vehicles registered were 28,41,000, it had more than doubled in 2018. Parameshwara said by September this year, the new vehicle count in the city has touched 75,66,109.