BENGALURU: The long-standing demand to reduce BMTC fares has now grown louder with the recent drop in diesel prices following the state government’s decision to do away with entry tax on fuel.
Diesel price in the state was reduced by `3 after GST rolled out due to the state government’s move to abolish entry tax. In addition to reduction in diesel prices, the state government has also decided to exempt BMTC from paying Motor Vehicle tax, which amounts to nearly `120 crore a year.
At present, Bengaluru has one of the highest bus fares in the country. The government, it is learnt, may agree to BMTC’s proposal to reduce fares in the wake of impending Assembly elections and also to arrest the freefall in passenger revenue. A proposal to launch ‘Happy Hours’ where low fares would be applicable during non-peak hours is also understood to be on the cards.
Lekha Adavi, a member of NGO Bengaluru Bus Prayaanikara Vedike, said, “It’s the right time to reduce fares due to the drop in diesel prices and exemption from Motor Vehicle tax.”
She says the government should also provide financial assistance to BMTC to improve its services. “It’s unfair to ask BMTC to generate revenue from advertisements and chartered services. The concept ‘Happy Hours’ will not be effective since commuters need fares to be reduced during peak hours.”
Srinivas Alavalli of NGO Citizens for Bengaluru, which is campaigning for ‘Half the fares and double the fleet’, said, “BMTC has been claiming high diesel prices and Motor Vehicle tax as excuses for not reducing fares all these years.”
A senior BMTC official said they have reduced fares up to `10 in AC bus services and nearly `35 in monthly passes after GST. There is a marginal decrease in tax on AC buses under GST —from 6 per cent to 5 per cent. “We have not taken any decision to reduce fares after the drop in diesel prices as fuel prices are being changed on a daily basis. The state government’s move to exempt BMTC from paying Motor Vehicle tax has not come into effect,” the official said.
BMTC Chairman M Nagaraj Yadav said the bus utility incurred a total loss of `260 crore till March this year. “We are aware of the need to reduce fares to attract people away from private vehicles, particularly two-wheelers to buses. The state government will soon take a positive decision to reduce bus fares.”