The hike in bus fares in the state attracted the ire of many organisations on Monday as the move was strongly opposed by many parties including the BJP.
“The bus fare hike is only a part of the issue. The real trouble lies with the regular diesel price hike. This is causing price rise across commodities and needs to be rolled back,” said Ravi Subramanya, BJP MLA, during a protest at Mysore Bank Circle on Monday.
Various leaders like party General Secretary H N Ananthakumar, MP P C Mohan, MLA Vijaykumar took part in the protest. “We want the state government to cut back the VAT charges on Diesel if the Central Government does not roll back the diesel price hike. People might see only the Rs 2 extra in bus charges, indirectly, cost of transport of commodities increases, diesel generators will become costlier for farmers, these indirect effects are much more serious,” Subramanya said.
While one of the reasons being given by the ministry for the fare hike is an increase in employees salaries, the KSRTC Workers Federation on Monday also called for a ‘Vidhana Soudha Chalo’ strike on July 25 stating that the transport department was ignoring their welfare.
“They have not increased salaries in over a year. How can the recent hike be due to increase in wages?” questioned S Prasanna, Federation president.
He said that bribes were demanded for allotment of buses with proper brakes. “Double and triple shifts of employees are logged as two-four hours overtime. There is no medical, educational assistance. They fine us if the passenger loses his ticket,” he said.
Citizen groups are also critical of the hike and are now advocating the entry of private bus service operators. “BMTC does not have any competition. People are forced to travel on the routes that BMTC decides. Instead of privatising BMTC, the government must allow private players in alternative routes,” said N Mukund, president of a Jayanagar Residents’ Welfare Association.