The state government on Saturday announced the reduced fare structure for bus, minibus, taxi and tram, to be implemented from June 7. The government has taken this “unprecedented decision” in the wake of the fall in diesel price, said state transport minister Subhas Chakraborty.
Passenger fares were hiked in April 2003, when the diesel price soared to Rs 23.51 a litre. Since May 2003, the price has come down to Rs 21.51. It is expected to fall further on May 31 midnight to the Rs 20.47-Rs 20.57 range. “Since the price of diesel is scheduled to dip further tonight, we have calculated the fares accordingly,” the transport minister explained.
The government has spoken to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to ensure a steady flow of 50 paise and 25 paise coins as the new fares will require small change. “The RBI has promised to co-operate,” he said.
Chakraborty’s announcement has caused “severe discontent” among bus, taxi and minibus owners’ associations. The fares were announced without any discussion, they alleged, refuting the minister’s claim of negotiations. “We were told that the announcement had been deferred due to the by-elections,” said Sadhan Das of Joint Council of Bus Syndicate.
“We will write to the transport minister and go in for continuous protests from June 23. A strike may also be called,” said Bimal Guha, general secretary of Bengal Taxi Association.
The minister pointed out that the fare chart was announced after receiving permission from the Election Commission of India. “The issue is related to market forces and has nothing to do with the elections,” he said.