BENGALURU: Commuters will soon have to pay more for travel in state road transport corporation buses as the government is set to take a decision soon on the proposal for a 20% hike in bus fares. The proposal is pending before the government for the past two months. Big rise in price of diesel and operating cost has forced Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) to seek a hike in fares, Transport Minister D C Thammanna said here on Wednesday.
Apart from rising operating cost due to increase in fuel prices, the demand for providing free bus passes for the students has put the finances of KSRTC and BMTC under strain. BMTC has run up losses of over `600 crore and is looking at fare hike as inevitable to maintain its operations. “We will take a decision on the fare hike proposal after discussing it with the Chief Minister and officials of state transport Corporations,” Thammanna added.
Replying to a question about filling of over 400 vacant posts of Road Transport Office Inspectors, Thammanna said government is considering to fill the p o s t s t h r o u g h d i r e c t recruitment. The issue of issuing free bus passes for students has put the coalition government in trouble as the students and the opposition have hit agitation mode to pressurise the government to fulfil the promise made by the previous Siddaramaiah government.
Primary and Secondary Education department is ready to bear 25% of the cost of issuing free passes and Transport Corporations would bear 25%, the promise could be fulfilled if the Chief Minister agrees to reimburse 50% of the cost from the state government, Thammanna said. State road transport corporations have an annual revenue of about `6,000 crore and exploring non-tariff avenues to shore up their revenues.
BMTC owns huge tracts of land in Bengaluru and proposals for building commercial complexes on these lands to generate revenue is also under consideration. The Transport department is citing concessions being provided for senior citizens and other segments of society in the buses as prime cause for the losses apart from fuel cost. “I am contemplating to seek `1,000 crore financial support from the government,” Thammanna said.