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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Fare relief on ASTC buses

Jan. 15: The Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) will soon introduce monthly city bus tickets with 30 per cent fare concession.

The monthly tickets with photo identity will be introduced in around 200 ASTC buses plying on four important routes — Basistha Chariali to Jalukbari via Ganeshguri, Paltan Bazar, Panbazar and Fancy Bazar, Khanapara to Jalukbari via Inter-state Bus Terminus, Forest Gate to Jalukbari via Chandmari, Silpukhuri-Dighalipukhuri and Panbazar.

“We are introducing monthly passes keeping in mind demands from many quarters about concession in bus fares. Thirty per cent concession will give a lot of relief to those who regularly use city buses. All the important routes where city buses ply will be covered,” an ASTC official at the city services branch told The Telegraph.

The monthly tickets will be available at the ASTC city services depot at Rupnagar and the Inter-state Bus Terminus at Betkuchi.

The city bus fares were revised in November last year with Rs 5 charged for the first 5km, Rs 8 up to 8km and Rs 23 for 21-25km.

The monthly tickets with concession, however, are unlikely to make much difference to commuters, as the public transport system is dependent on more than 1,000 private buses, whose owners are unwilling to give any concessions despite demands.

There are 179 buses being run by ASTC, which were sanctioned under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). Besides, there are 50 other ASTC buses plying on city roads.

People here mostly have to depend on private buses as very few JNNURM buses ply after 8pm.

“I don’t understand how these monthly tickets will benefit commuters as there are very few ASTC buses. Even if someone buys a monthly ticket, they will invariably have to wait to catch an ASTC bus and in the process, they are likely to reach their destination late. If the government is really worried about the people, they should either ask private operators to introduce monthly tickets with similar concession or increase the number of ASTC buses,” Raktim Das, a shopkeeper at Fancy Bazar and a daily commuter, said.

City buses also do not ply on many routes and people have to depend on trekkers, which charge more. Passengers are often seen venting their anger on trekker drivers, as they carry more passengers than their capacity and it also creates problems for women travellers.

The ASTC official, however, claimed the monthly tickets would benefit office-goers and students. “We hope that if residents buy the monthly tickets in more numbers, this will automatically put pressure on the private operators to give similar fare concessions,” he said.