After clothes and white goods, it’s time for bus tickets to be bitten by the rebate bug. In a bid to rope in long-distance pandal-hoppers this October — and more commuters through the year — the Calcutta State Transport Corporation (CSTC) has decided to introduce a ‘flexifare’. The move comes in the wake of the state government making it clear to the transport corporation that it will soon slash subsidy. So, it’s time the CSTC started fending for itself.
According to the flexifare system, a passenger travelling more than 50 km at a stretch on any long-distance bus will get a discount on the existing fare. The discount will vary from 10 per cent to 20 per cent, depending on the distance travelled by the passenger.
According to plans drawn up by the CSTC, a 10 per cent slash will be offered for travelling beyond 50 km, 15 per cent for going beyond 100 km and 20 per cent for crossing the 100-km mark. There will, however, be no incentive for travelling less than 50 km. The conductor on board will be empowered to dish out the discount.
“Our move is aimed at wooing more passengers and increasing revenue. If there is competition everywhere and in every sphere, why will the CSTC remain isolated' Long-distance private bus operators often charge less than the scheduled fare and manage to get more passengers than state buses. Whether empty or full, the bus has to travel the distance. And so, if we allow a similar system, our buses could definitely get more passengers,’’ reasoned CSTC managing director G.P. Konar.
The CSTC chief made it clear that it was time for the Corporation to explore various revenue-generation options and adopt some of them. “ The state government has told us to find ways and means to be self-dependent. So, we must increase our earnings. We have already taken several steps by improving work discipline and redrawing different routes as per the demand of commuters,’’ Konar said.
CSTC has also announced a system of reward and penalty for drivers and conductors. “The CSTC board has decided to offer incentives, including cash, increment and promotion, for a job well done. Drivers and conductors have been promised a special reward if they run buses in addition to schedule trips,’’ Konar added.
According to CSTC officials, the introduction of a string of measures has already yielded a revenue jump of 25 per cent. “Our thrust will now be on maximum utilisation of vehicles and manpower. We hope the income will rise further in the coming months, with the introduction of the innovations,’’ they said.
At present, CSTC runs nearly 1,200 buses on 95 local routes and 127 long-distance routes to and from Calcutta. A total of 270 new buses -— specially designed and conforming to Bharat-II norms — are gearing up to hit the streets soon.