Octogenarian lawyer Ram Gopal Kashyap is struggling to understand why fares of private buses plying between Ranchi and adjoining areas like Bundu and Tamar were hiked by nearly 20 per cent in one go.
“Till a couple of months ago, they charged Rs 35-40 for the 55km trip between Tamar and Ranchi. Now, they are charging Rs 50, almost 25 per cent more. It is true that diesel prices have gone up. Still, it’s a steep hike. The government should pay attention to this problem,” Kashyap said.
Bus conductor Bishwajit Kumar said the fares had to be hiked, as diesel prices had gone up by one-and-a-half times in the last couple of years.
President of Bus Owners’ Association, Ranchi, Krishna Mohan Singh said they had raised the fares in some routes a couple of months ago as the vehicles were running in loss or on break-even basis.
“We have not increased fares in routes where there are cheaper transport options like state transport buses or trains. We had appealed the state transport department to hold a meeting where we could finalise the fares of various routes by mutual agreement. But, our pleas fell on deaf ears,” said Singh.
Notably, the high fares were introduced in the run up to Lok Sabha election, when the district administration seized public transport vehicles for poll purposes. Commuters, wary of scarce buses on roads, did not begrudge the high fares. The hiked fares have continued since.
While transport department boss Sajal Chakraborty is currently serving as the state’s acting chief secretary, transport commissioner Manoj Kumar is at Chattisgarh on poll duty.
Joint transport commissioner S.K. Sinha said private bus operators had not consulted them before hiking fares. “We would look into the matter if a formal complaint reaches us. As per norms, committees headed by State Transport Authority and Regional Transport Authority should take a call on fixing fares, keeping in mind the interests of both passengers and bus operators,” he added.