Financial help for 6,000 private buses
The owners of 6,000 buses will be given Rs 15,000 each a month for three months from July to help them bring out their vehicles, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Friday.
The total expenditure over three months will be Rs 27 crore.
Mamata made it clear that the state government would not immediately allow any fare hike and appealed to the operators of private buses and minibuses to roll out their vehicles from July 1.
Thousands of private buses have been off the roads with the operators demanding a fare hike to offset the loss being inflicted by a steep rise in the diesel price and a restriction on the number of passengers a vehicle can ferry.
Several operators said they would resume service but pointed out that the total bus count across the state was nearly four times the number being offered financial help. In Calcutta, the bus count stands at around 6,000, transport department officials said.
The selective help, they said, “could create a rift” among operators.
“Bus fares can’t be raised since we are accountable to the people. Our idea is to help people as much as possible. But we will also look after those who run buses,” Mamata said after meeting bus and minibus operators at Nabanna.
“We have decided to give Rs 15,000 to each of the 6,000 buses for the next three months beginning July 1. Sudhu manusher dikey taakiye (Just keeping the concerns of the people in mind). The operators will decide how they want to utilise the amount — whether as subsidy or commission. But they will bring the buses back on the roads from July 1.”
She added: “I don’t want any uncertainty among commuters whether they would be able to reach office or return home. The transport department will have to coordinate more closely with bus operators and the police to ensure that the waiting time of passengers at bus stops is reduced.”
Transport minister Suvendu Adhikari has asked bus union leaders to meet him on Monday to work out the modalities of payment.
The operators told the chief minister that the rise in diesel price — up by almost Rs 10 a litre over the past 25 days — and the restriction on the number of passengers had left them struggling to meet their ends.