Bus ride costliest in Kerala in South India

The current minimum charge here is Rs 6 against Rs 3 in Tamil Nadu and Rs 4 in Karnataka.

Kochi: Private bus operators are demanding yet another hike after the one implemented over a year ago. And with the Fare Revision Committee appointed by the government supporting the claims of bus owners, it seems another ticket fare hike is on the cards.

But, obviously, the UDF government does not want to go in for a hike immediately as the Lok Sabha polls are round the corner. The hike is very much on the card ones the elections are over.
Nearly 35, 000 private buses operate in the state, forming the backbone of the public transportation system.

The hike is contemplated despite the fact that the state is among the costliest for commuters in the country when it comes to public transportation. The current minimum charge here is Rs 6 against Rs 3 in Tamil Nadu and Rs 4 in Karnataka. The income per km in Kerala is the highest in South India because of the high density of population and subsequent demand for public transport.

Experts point out that the Fare Revision Committee submitted inflated expenditure figures to the government and another hike close on the heels of the tax rise on autos and taxis proposed in the Budget would lead to commuters deserting the public transport system in the state.

“The committee headed by Justice Ramachandran basically relied on a NATPAC study that showed the average number of passengers per bus as 32 whereas the private bus owners themselves submitted it as 50.

If we take the latter figure then the minimum charge would come to only Rs 3 and the per km charge 33 paise,” said Dijo Kappen of the Pala-based Centre for Consumer Education, who approached the high court against frequent bus fare hikes.

When contacted, NATPAC scientist T. Elangovan stood by the study. “The last year saw diesel prices going up by 12 per cent and wages by 15 per cent (Rs 680 from Rs 580). The insurance charge has also gone up besides spare part costs,” he said.

However, diesel price is almost the same in Tamil Nadu – Rs 57.95 (Chennai) as against Rs 58.15 (Kochi). The Private Bus Operators Confederation that had threatened to go on an indefinite strike from January 29 if the government did not accede to their demands that included raising the minimum ticket charge to Rs 10, on Monday decided to defer the strike considering the plea of transport minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan that he needed some time to study the demands.

“One case to note here is that the cost of operation in our state is high compared to neighbouring ones. We have to remit nearly Rs 1.5 lakh per bus per year as tax. We’ll be a relieved lot if the government takes away the VAT for diesel and lower the road tax to 50 per cent. Also here we’re giving all sorts of concessions. All these have to be taken into account. We’ve submitted a seven-point charter of demands,” said Lowrance Babu, Confederation chairman.

Next: After every fare hike, fewer commuters travel in buses

After every fare hike, fewer commuters travel in buses

Kochi: After every hike in bus fares, about 2.5 per cent people opt for trains or their own private vehicles, further clogging the narrow roads of the state, according to a study.

“We found that 2.5 per cent of people opt for other modes, two-wheelers and cars, after every bus fare hike. While the average cost per km for travelling in buses works out to 90 paise, that of a two-wheeler (two person travelling in a vehicle having a mileage of 70 km/litre) is around 45 paise,” according to the report by the Centre for Consumer Education.

It cites that the trend negates the additional revenue that the private bus owners hope to garner by a fare revision. Currently out of the 80 lakh vehicles on the roads, scooters and small cars consume over half the figures.

( Source : dc )
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