THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Commuters, hit hard by a recent hike in bus fares, are set to face another blow as the fares of KSRTC low floor buses in the capital and Kochi are likely to be nearly doubled in the near future.
“Due to a steep decline in profit from low-floor buses, a fare hike, which may be almost double the current rate, is likely soon,” a top KSRTC official told ‘Express’.
However, Transport Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan denied knowledge of any such move. “Such a proposal has not come to my notice yet,” he said.
The low-floor buses, introduced under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM), are currently operational in the capital and Kochi. While there are 25 AC and 135 non-AC low floor buses in Thiruvananthapuram, 40 AC buses and 130 non-AC low-floor buses ply on Kochi roads. The Centre bears 80 per cent of the cost and the rest is borne by the state government.
The fare hike of JnNURM-funded buses are effected periodically. The last time the fares of low-floor buses were hiked was on July 29 last year. The rates are fixed by a regulatory body which includes officials both from the state and Centre. It is reliably learnt that the tariff commission will meet soon to revise the fares.
If the revised fares come into effect, a commuter who pays a minimum of Rs eight for travel in a low-floor non-AC bus will have to shell out at around Rs 16. In the case of AC buses, the commuter who pays Rs 15 for the first five kilometres will have to pay Rs 30.
Recently, KSRTC had increased the minimum fare on all classes of buses. The minimum fare of City/ Ordinary Services/ City Fast Services was recently hiked to Rs seven. This is just a rupee less than the minimum fare of low-floor non-AC buses.
“Since the fare for ordinary buses and low-floor non-AC buses differ only by a rupee, I would prefer the latter. It is much more comfortable, clean, user-friendly and faster,” said Ayush Kamal, a regular commuter. However, the imminent fare hike for low-floor buses has left many commuters like him disappointed.
“With the increase in demand and almost similar rates, people may tend to go in for low-floor buses for the time being. But the exact effect is yet to be ascertained as the fare hike was effected just two days ago,” the KSRTC official said.