THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Private bus operators in the state have decided to stop services from August 1 citing unviability during the pandemic. Terming the crisis unprecedented, they claimed that a 25 per cent fare hike was not enough in the wake of steady rise in fuel prices.
“We cannot continue the services anymore by bearing the loss. Hence, we are forced to stop the services from August 1,” said a joint statement by Kerala State Private Bus Operators Federation (KSPBOF) and All-Kerala Bus Operators Organisation (AKBOO). The bus operators will intimate the motor vehicles department on suspending the service (Form G).
A non-use declaration will excuse bus owners from paying tax and also extend the insurance period.
The government hiked bus fares by 25 per cent, as against the demand for 50 per cent, in the beginning of July based on the recommendations of Justice M Ramachandran Commission.A bus with an average collection of `3,000 would make an additional `700 as per the new fare hike. However, the hike in diesel prices would result in an additional expense of `900. Diesel prices have increased by `11.5 since June.
“People will refrain from using public transport when they hear words like triple lockdown and super spreading. How will it be viable when there are only four to five passengers in a trip during non-peak hours?” asked Lawrence Babu, general secretary, KSPBOF. According to him, only 20 per cent of the fleet is operating in the state presently. The public transport sector comprises 17,000 buses -- 12,000 private and 5,000 KSRTC buses.