CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government seems all set to increase fares for buses operated by eight transport corporations in the State. The decision is aimed at improving the financial condition of debt-ridden state transport undertakings, which have been functioning with 80 percent of worn out buses.
According to transport department sources, the per kilometre price of ordinary mofussil buses is likely to go up from 42 paise to 60 paise; Express and deluxe bus fares to get increased from 56 paise to 73 paise.
The bus fare of Super Deluxe service is expected to increase to 75 paise as against the current 60 paise per km, while Ultra Deluxe bus fare may go upto 95 paise from 70. This means, ticket fare of an SETC bus from Chennai to Madurai will increase from nearly Rs 325 to Rs 440 per passenger.
Similarly, the ticket fares of Air Conditioned Deluxe buses and Volvo buses, is likely to increase by 60 to 70 paise per km. Currently, AC bus ticket fares are charged at 90 paise per km, while Volvo bus fare is 110 paise for the same distance. As far as Metropolitan Transport Corporation is concerned, the sources said, the minimum ticket fares of ordinary buses is to increase to Rs 5 from Rs 3. The maximum ticket fare may go upto Rs 25.
With the fleet capacity of 22,203, the six TNSTC divisions (Villupuram, Madurai, Kumbakonam, Salem, Tirunelveli and Coimbatore) Metropolitan Transport Corporation and State Express Transport Corporation cater to about 1.8 crores commuters a day.
The last time the ticket fare was hiked was in November 2011. Currently, the State transport corporations liabilities totalled Rs 2400 crores in banks and withhold of employees benefits after retirement to the tune of Rs 1500 crores. Given the poor condition of transport corporations, fare hike is inevitable, said a senior member of Tamil Nadu transport union staff federation.
The union member attributed the poor financial condition to the inordinate delay in increasing bus fares, besides mismanagement and increasing operational costs. “Had bus fares increased nominally once in every two years to match the operational expenses, transport units would not have suffered to the extent of stopping the retirement benefits of their employees,” added the union member.
Justifying the fare hike, a senior official said fares in Tamil Nadu are less by about 30 to 40 per cent compared to other States. “Southern neighbhouring States, including Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have hiked the fares of buses in the last two years, but Tamil Nadu had not increased the fares in the last six years,”sources said.
Besides, increasing the ticket fare, various measures to restructure the corporation units will be taken up after the seven-member committee, constituted to study the feasibility of merging TNSTC Tirunelveli division with Madurai division, submits a report.
Proposal to review passes for senior citizens
As part of the measures to revamp the transport undertaking, a proposal to review the free bus pass scheme for senior citizens in Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses has been submitted
Transport department sources told Express that MTC has been incurring a huge revenue loss ever since the scheme was introduced
“On an average, about 45,000 commuters benefit under this scheme a day, causing a loss of Rs 1.2 crore per month. The MTC has to depend on government for funds to compensate the loss,” the sources added
Sources said a proposal has been submitted to review the entire scheme to ensure that it benefits only the needy