BANGALORE: Opportunistic bus fare hikes for long weekends and festivals could soon invite punitive action.
The state government has decided to amend the Karnataka State Contract Carriages Act to regulate private bus fares. “The amendment bill will be introduced in the next Legislature session in Belgaum,” said Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy.
Passengers are complaining about fares going up two to three times when the demand is high, he said.
“Such fleecing should be and penalised. The bill will enable the government to fix a base fare and allow a marginal increase when the situation so demands,” he told reporters on Thursday. Once the law is in place, private operators will have to seek the government’s approval to hike fares.
The state government has also decided to act against misuse of auto permits.
Members of several auto drivers’ associations met Reddy on Thursday and urged him to regulate the issue of permits.
The previous BJP government had approved 5,000 permits, and most of them are being misused, they said. Reddy said no new permits would be issued as those approved by the BJP government were yet to be fully used.
“We will issue permits only to those who hold auto driving licences and badges,” Reddy said.
‘They Do it Too’
K Rajavarma Ballal, president of the Karnataka State Bus Owners Federation, said, “The concept of flexi-fares was introduced by the state-run KSRTC. They adopted the airlines model to compete with private bus operators.” He wondered why the government was complaining now. “They must fix their own house before commenting about others,” he said.
Fare or Foul?
Express checked an online ticketing service for private bus fares. For a Bangalore-Mangalore journey on Independence Day eve, the fare was `1,200. On non-peak days, it is in the range of `500 to `600.
On the KSRTC site, the fares did vary, but not so wildly. For example, an AC sleeper bus was priced at `840 for August 14 and `691 for August 21. The state-run service also covers the same route for as little as `322 in a non-AC bus.