Tamil Nadu Transport Minister MR Vijayabhaskar on Saturday said that the raise in bus fares was inevitable and ruled out any possibility of rescinding the decision, The Times of India reported.
The fare for a distance of 10 km has been increased by a rupee for ordinary buses while commuters travelling 30 km in express or semi-deluxe buses have to pay Rs 24 now. Earlier, the fare was Rs 17. The revision is steep in Volvo buses (from Rs 33 to Rs 51), air-conditioned buses (Rs 27 to Rs 42), ultra deluxe buses (Rs 21 to Rs 33) and super deluxe ones (Rs 18 to Rs 27), The Hindu reported. This was the second such revision of bus fares since 2000.
Vijayabhaskar apologised to the people, but added that the government was compelled to take the decision because of a financial crunch. “I humbly ask the public to forgive us for raising bus fares due to financial constraints,” the minister said at a public meeting in Karur.
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader criticised the Left for protesting against the government’s decision. The labour unions, he said, had backed the move when transport workers went on strike. “When the unions demanded the wages, they said the demands should be met,” Vijayabhaskar was quoted as saying by The Hindu. “In 2011, diesel was Rs 43.10 per litre. Today, it costs Rs 65.23. It has increased by 52%. Wages have risen by 120%. The deficit is obvious.”
The minister said that former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa wanted the state to run one of the cheapest bus services in India. He pointed out that the fare in Andhra Pradesh had increased 16 times since 2000 while in Kerala and Karnataka the fares had increased eight times.
The transport unions in the state had gone on an eight-day strike earlier this month, demanding an increase in wages. They withdrew the strike on January 11 after the government agreed to a 2.44-times raise and announced it would release Rs 750 crore to pay the retirement dues of transport workers.