Srinagar: It is just a matter of days when commuters have to pay a hiked bus fare in Jammu and Kashmir. But how much would be the ‘payable fare’, and more importantly who will decide it ultimately, is a lurking question.
From the official prospective, the reply would be known after the State Transport Authority issues a formal notification as the cabinet Saturday approved 14 per cent hike. However, the commuters are apprehensive that it would be transporters again who will eventually decide it.
The commuters are irked by the third hike in as many as three years.
“When last hike was announced, revised figure for various distance slaps was in decimals less than 40. For example, for 0-3 kms, revised fare was Rs 4.38, and it was rounded off to Rs 4.50 to make a commuter pay Rs 5 given the fact that 50 paisa currency is no more in vague,” Bashir Ahmad Beigh, a resident of Lal Bazaar, said.
Further elucidating his point, he said the revised rate for ‘up to 5 kms’ was Rs 7.31 and it was rounded off to Rs 7.50. “This at the face of it was done by design so that a commuter pays Rs 8,” he said.
However, this time around the situation is slightly tilted in favour of the commuters as far as round off calculations are concerned. Apart from slaps of ‘up to 5 kms’ and ‘beyond 20 kms’, the fare would fall in precise value.
For instance, in a distance slap for 0-3kms, 14 per cent increase from existing Rs 4.38 comes to about Rs 4.99 and in round off calculations means Rs 5 payable fare.
Similarly, the increase as far as ‘up to 10 kms’ comes from existing Rs 8.77 to Rs 9.99 and payable would be Rs 10. For ‘up to 15 kms’ slab, the payable fare would be around Rs 12 and for ‘up to 20 kms’, an increase of Rs 1.84 from existing Rs 13.15 comes around Rs 15.
“One hopes that now the government will round off the bus fare to the favour of commuters whose pockets already stand drained by inflation,” said Mohammad Altaf, a resident of Budgam district.
Under pressure from transporters, the state cabinet Saturday increased the existing passenger fare on all distance slabs by 14 per cent for mini-buses and directed the State Transport Authority to fix the maximum chargeable fare in respect of various categories of vehicles over and above the existing fares.
Similar increase has also been approved for big buses as well as for medium segment taxi (tourist) cabs like Tavera, Scorpio, Qualis and Xylo.
For the taxi cabs (Sumo, Bolero, Tata Indica, Swift, Tata Winger, Tempo Traveller), the cabinet approved 12 per cent hike. However, for the premium class tourist taxi cabs like Innova and Fortuner, the cabinet has approved 19 per cent increase. For auto rickshaw (petrol version), hike of 9.8 per cent has been approved, official sources told Kashmir Reader.
This is the third hike in bus fare in last three years. The last was in December 2012 when fare was increased by 14.40 per cent in respect of big buses, 13.49 per cent for mini-buses, 12.93 per cent for Taxi Maxi Cab (diesel) and 8.81 per cent in respect of auto-rickshaws.
Earlier on September 30, 2011, the cabinet had approved 15 per cent hike in then existing fare for big buses, 14 per cent for mini buses, 9 per cent for maxi-cabs (diesel), 16 per cent for auto rickshaws and 13 per cent in respect of contract carriages (petrol).