Most buses are back on the road. (Pradip Sanyal)
Relieved to find most buses and taxis back on the road, few commuters complained about the fare hike on Day One.
Not all operators implemented the new fares on Thursday though — many bus operators charged the old fares as they were yet to receive the revised chart, while minibus operators kept to the previous fares as a mark of protest.
Most taxis, however, charged the revised fares and some even tried to fleece commuters, yet to get accustomed to the new calculation. “Some taxi drivers tried to fool passengers into paying more because nobody is sure of the new fare formula yet,” admitted a leader of the taxi operators’ lobby.
Not satisfied with the hike, taxi and minibus operators have decided to meet the chief minister next week and request further hikes. “We need around 10 per cent more to avoid losses,” said Tarak Nath Bari, the secretary of Calcutta Taxi Association.
Abashesh Daw, the general secretary of the Minibus Operators’ Coordination Committee, said the operators would write to Mamata on Saturday and seek an appointment for Monday.
But not all were complaining. “Everyone is aware of the diesel price rise. A fare hike was inevitable. There are definitely more willing cabbies on the road today,” said Dipanwita Saharoy, who takes a taxi from her Alipore home to her Brabourne Road office every day.
Bus operators, too, are ready to accept the new fare structure. “A Re 1 increase for a 3km stretch will hardly make a difference with diesel price having gone up by Rs 6.02 a litre in the last month and a half. But we will take it for now,” said the driver of a bus on route 43 (Bonhooghly-Esplanade).
Sadhan Das, the secretary of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicates, said there would be no further negotiations. “This hike has made a difference of around 20 per cent to the size of the fleet on the road. In the next few days, we will see most buses return to business,” said Das.
Transport minister Madan Mitra ruled out further revision of fares. “Commuters are happy with the new fares and there’s no reason why operators should complain,” he said.
Taxi fares are up by around 20 per cent, bus fares by 25 per cent and minibus fares by 14 to 20 per cent.