More private buses are likely to ply on Calcutta’s roads from Monday and operators said they would charge fares that make their business viable. This means a passenger will be expected to pay between Rs 10 and Rs 20 on most of the routes unlike the government-prescribed price band of Rs 7 to Rs 10.
Officially, transport minister Firhad Hakim said it was unacceptable that a section of bus operators would fix their own fares even though the state government completely sympathises with their operational challenges.
Unofficially the government has so far not acted on any of the buses that have asked passengers to pay more than the government-regulated fares.
“Bus malik der haath joro korey onurodh korchhi (We are requesting the bus operators with folded hands). We know they are facing a lot of hardships. But how will the commuters pay?” Hakim said at a meeting in Chetla on Saturday as a part of the Trinamul’s statewide protest against the rising price of diesel and petrol.
The price of petrol crossed the Rs 100-mark and sold at Rs 101.62 a litre. Diesel sold at Rs 92.97 a litre.
Bus operators said they require anything between 40 and 45 litre of fuel for a bus each day. Moreover, there are not enough passengers as the state government has set limit of 50 per cent capacity.
“More private buses will start their operations from Monday with the new fare structure. So far we have not faced any resistance from passengers. Most said they would have spent more than the revised ticket fare if they were to commute by other means,” said Pradip Narayan Bose of the West Bengal Bus Minibus Owners’ Association.
Several bus operators said they were keen on bringing out more buses on several routes in and around Calcutta. But in case the operators
faced harassment from police, they would withdraw their services.
On Saturday, operators of several routes came together to decide on the number of buses they want to increase from Monday, despite it being a holiday because of Rath Yatra.
Operators of route 222 connecting Bon Hooghly near Baranagar in north Calcutta and Behala said they have 21 odd buses of which 12 were on the roads. The remaining would start rolling from next week. Similarly, operators of route 34C connecting Baranagar and Esplanade will roll out three more buses of the eight. At present, five buses of the route are plying.