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Bus fare hike call

Durgapur, Dec. 13: Minibus owners in Burdwan have decided to collect the increased fares from December 15, alleging that the revised chart issued by the transport department was yet to reach them.

The bus owners said they were being forced to run their vehicles at a loss in the aftermath of the diesel price hike because of the delay.

The owners have decided to take their minibuses off the roads if the passengers refused to pay the increased fares in the absence of a chart.

The minimum fare was increased by a rupee from Rs 5 on October 31.

“We are incurring huge losses as we are being forced to run the (minimum) 4km slab at a fare of Rs 5 since 2008. The price of diesel has almost doubled in that period. So it is not possible to continue with the old fares,” said Aloke Chatterjee, the secretary of the Durgapur Subdivisional Minibus Operators’ Association.

“The government declared a bus fare hike about one-and-a-half months ago but in Burdwan, it is yet to send a fare chart. We are regularly enquiring at the transport office in Burdwan. The officers there are telling us that the fare chart was yet to reach them from Writers’ Building. In absence of the fare chart, we cannot take the increased fares from the passengers as they will refuse and argue,” he added.

A delegation of minibus owners from Burdwan met transport minister Madan Mitra on November 26 and urged him to issue the fare chart.

Mitra said yesterday that the government had sent the revised fare chart to all districts two weeks ago. “I do not know why the minibus operators in Burdwan have not yet got the fare chart. I will inquire the matter with the regional transport office.”

Burdwan regional transport officer Asish Saha said the chart was yet to reach him.

In Burdwan, around 750 minibuses ply daily, mostly in Durgapur and Asansol.

The minibus operators demanded that the fares be increased by 50 paise for every subsequent kilometre after the 4km slab. The government has announced a hike of 45 paise.

“We will distribute leaflets among passengers for the next two days urging them to cooperate with us. If there is any resistance, we will stop plying buses,” said Chatterjee.