Forum bats for reducing BMTC’s bus ticket price

PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN BENGALURU

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A delegation from Bangalore Bus Prayanikara Vedike (BBPV) met Karnataka’s Transport Minister D C Thamanna and submitted a memorandum, asking for bus fares to be reduced.

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A press note from Vinay Sreenivasa of BBPV says that the BBPV communicated to the minister that proposal to hike bus fares will harm BMTC, bus commuters and entire Bengaluru. The Minister did not provide any assurance on not hiking fares. The Transport Minister had been hinting at hiking fares of BMTC by about 14% – 18%.

Bangalore Bus Prayanikara Vedike has been urging both the current government and past governments to reduce fares for the past
few years as they believe that affordable mobility is a right for all residents.BBPV members  submitted a memorandum to DC Thammanna highlighting why they felt hiking fares would impact BMTC, commuters and the rest of Bengaluru negatively. The members said they understand BMTC is impacted by the diesel fare hike but that it cannot be passed on to commuters, so financial support needs to be sought from the state government. Given that the government funds several other projects to the tune of 1000s of crores, it was unfair to not support BMTC, which supports the poor and working class of the city, felt the BBPV members.

The minister agreed that the state government must support BMTC financially and higher proportion spent on other projects nodes is unfair. He claimed to have approached the state government to fund BMTC, but it has not been possible. He accepted the memorandum and agreed to study it, but refused to commit on whether the fares will be hiked or not hiked. Copy of the memorandum submitted is below:

To,
Sri D C Thammanna,
Hon’ble Minister for Transport
Government of Karnataka
Sub: The proposed fare hike by BMTC and KSRTC

Dear Sir,

Bengaluru Bus Prayaanikara Vedike (BBPV) is a bus-commuter’s forum for Bangalore city formed in 2013. We have been actively campaigning to make the city-bus service more affordable and inclusive. BBPV believes that the right to safe, affordable, and comfortable mobility is a fundamental right, one that enables all sections of people to realise their right to work, to education and to a meaningful social life and leisure. In the past we have raised the concern of affordability of bangalore’s bus systems through campaigns like 50Paise/Km and Bus Bhagya Beku.

Sir, we have come across media reports where you are quoted as saying the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) and the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) have proposed to hike the ticket fares by 15 to 18 per cent in the coming weeks. While the fare hike is prompted by the hike in diesel fares, we feel that linking the fares to the diesel rates in such a direct manner is actually harmful to BMTC , Bus commuters and to Bangalore city overall.

The service that BMTC provides is critical for the city and there should be financial support from the government to ensure it remains affordable for citizens. However, BMTC receives very little subsidies and insufficient budgetary allocation from the State Government, leaving the corporation to fend for itself, because of which BMTC is focussed on revenue generation instead of looking at public service as the main aim. It is not a surprise, that in such a scenario, that the ticket fares of the BMTC stands the highest compared to any other city-bus service in the entire country.

Cities like Bangalore continue to spend a large portion of their budgets on transport. Most of this investment goes into large infrastructure projects like the Metro rail (Phase 1 costed ₹12,000 crore, Phase 2 of which costs ₹ 26,000 crores ), the Peripheral Ring Road(₹ 13,000 crores) and the elevated flyover project (₹ 15,825 crores) Following is a breakdown of investment and ridership of Namma Metro, and even when phase 2 gets completed in 2021, BMTC will still be the backbone city’s transport landscape with its current ridership 50 lakh daily ridership per day sure to have gone up to atleast 60 lakhs.

Metro Phase Cost  No. of kms  Daily Ridership
Phase 1
₹14,405.01 crores 42 4 lakh (originally estimated
at 10 lakhs as per DPR)
Phase 2 (TBC in 2021)
₹26,405 crores (estimated) 72 20 lakh (estimate)

Despite catering to the larger volume of city’s transport needs, BMTC has to routinely struggle for money event to buy buses at a regular frequency. The corporation failed to induct any new buses during the budget year 2015-16 and very few buses were added in 2016-17 despite a clear requirement of adding over 3000 new buses. In 2017-18 only 1406 new buses have been added while 1200 old buses have been scrapped. Thus there has been no proportionate net increase in its fleet size in the last 5 years. The plan to induct electric buses in BMTC fleet by October will also add only 80-100 more buses, falling extremely short of the needed numbers. This disproportionately low state support to the real backbone of Bangalore’s mobility is a paradox and a shift needs to happen urgently.

Sir, we need to at least double the fleet of buses, to counter the growing private vehicular population of the city. Which is why the city saw a large-scale, well-supported campaign called “ Double the fleet, Half the fare” last year.

In an already bad situation for bus-based public transport, this decision to hike the fares will affect the life of lakhs of common citizens who rely on the bus as their primary mode of transportation to commute to work, and to access basic necessities like health, education and leisure. Groups of citizens, like the garment workers, whose minimum wages are around INR 6600 per month, find the monthly bus pass priced at INR 1050 extremely unaffordable and the fare price hike will only make the situation worse for them. There are many more such as security guards, street vendors and domestic workers who earn in the range of INR 5000-8000 per month. Hiking the fares will mean that these people, who cannot afford a two-wheeler will have to offset the increased commuting cost by cutting down on essentials such as food, education or clothing. The urban poor who travel by bus, do not contribute to congestion or pollution. Why must they be penalised for no fault of theirs?

Below is a fare comparison between different Indian cities that illustrates how starkly expensive BMTC’s existing fares stand, when compared with other city-bus operators in India:-

Fares of Bus Transit Services Across Select Indian Cities: A Comparison

Bus Operators
Fare for travelling 5 kms in the city
Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service (AMTS) INR 8/-
Brihanmumbai Electrical Supply & Transport Undertaking (BEST) INR 14/-
Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) INR 15/-
Calcutta State Transport Corporation (CSTC) INR 8/-
Chandigarh Transport Corporation (CTC) INR 5/-
Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) INR 10/-
Metro Chennai Transport Corporation (MCTC) INR 8/-
Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal (PMPML) INR 10/-

With this proposed round of increase in the ticket fares, owing to the hike in diesel prices, BMTC is going to become even more unaffordable and inaccessible for many communities that rely on its services. Last time the fares were hiked, BMTC revenue actually came down, because some people who found it costly shifted to two-wheelers and those who could not afford it, just walked. Hiking the fares will again mean that BMTC revenue will be hit and that the number of commuters will come down. This will mean that congestion and pollution will increase, additionally the poor will have to suffer more.

This proposed bus fare hike will make the transport condition worse for the whole of Bangalore.

Given this background, BBPV demands the following action from the State Government, immediately:-

1) Fares to be cut by half the current levels so that the urban poor are benefitted and more number of people take the bus, resulting in lesser congestion and pollution.
2) Reimburse the taxes such as road tax, motor vehicle tax, tolls, fuel tax, etc. that is collected from the BMTC/KSRTC. (In 2014, the government of Andhra Pradesh waived off the Motor Vehicle tax of Rs. 2,688 crore for the state road transport corporation. )
3) Provide subsidies on purchase of fuel, spare parts, infrastructure and other equipment that the BMTC/KSRTC incurs on a monthly basis. This will ensure that the burden of changing fuel prices and other economic changes does not fall on the common  people.
4) While fuel price hike may be a deterrent for private vehicles, the Central and State Governments must ensure that it does not affect public transport and its users. All policy decisions must be made with bus-based public transport at the centre, as bus is the backbone of all urban spaces.
5) Fund capital expenses of BMTC like the way it is being done with the Metro right now We request you to immediately act on all the demands in the interest of providing an affordable and equitable public transport for the city and ensure that moves like the fuel price hike do not become predatory towards the most vulnerable citizens of the city.

Yours Sincerely,


1 Comment

  1. I’m a Senior Citizen and while travelling by the BMTC, on an average once in a fortnight, the conductors showing my ID extend some 30 p.c. discount that is VERY MEAGRE & PALTRY. I also used to avail of the GOLD DAILY PASS at Rs 147 which I thought was prohibitive. I approached the Hon’ble CM & the Transport Minister, copied to the BMTC MD, to reduce the Daily Pass fares so that the Seniors cud benefit !! >>AS IS USUAL WITH THE STATE GOVT., THERE WAS NO RESPONSE–NOT EVEN AN ACK !! God alone can save US, THE SENIORS !!

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