The Karnataka Government has proposed to hike both BMTC and KSRTC bus ticket fares by 18% in context of the soaring fuel prices by the Central Government. Two days ago, the State Government has been quoted in the media that the proposal to hike the ticket fare is going to be temporarily docked. However, this shows that the Government is not shelving the idea of a fare hike, but only stalling it.
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In light of this proposed fare hike, Bengaluru Bus Prayanikara Vedike (BBPV) held a “Commuter’s Ballot” at Kempegowda Bus Station to take the commuter’s vote on whether they should pay more for their bus tickets. Volunteers from constituent groups of BBPV, such as Mahila Karmikara Munnade, Garment and Textile Workers Union, Sadhana Mahila Sangha, Bengaluru Jilla Beedhi Vyapari Sanghatanekala Okkutta and student groups held placards carrying information about bus fares across cities and the proposed fare hike, to help commuters understand the issue and vote. The voting was held from 11 AM to 1 PM, across the platforms of the bus station and saw enthusiastic participation from commuters across all sections. Of the 569 votes polled, 543 (95%) voted against the fare hike and 25 (4%) voted in favor of the hike.
Around 50 lakh people use BMTC buses for their daily commute. Apart from the office going middle class, BMTC commuters include large sections of urban deprived communities such as domestic workers, security guards, construction laborers, street vendors, municipal workers and garment workers.
After a steep fare hike of 70-80% in 2013-14, the BMTC had more or less kept its fares stable for the past 3 years. But, with fuel prices rising, Bangalore is staring at one more fare hike. As it is, the city already has one of the highest bus fares across all Indian cities. The high fares combined with easy availability of other competing modes, such as shared cabs/autos, two-wheelers etc., which are also cheaper and offer quicker and more convenient service than the bus, has led to a decline in the ridership for BMTC over the years. Some estimates suggest that, over the last 4-5 years, the daily passenger trips have fallen to ~45L. One more fare hike will be disastrous for the average bus commuter, as well as the BMTC.
During the “Commuter Ballot” campaign in Majestic today, apart from expressing their discomfort with another fare hike, many commuters said that the fares should be reduced. Some of them said that it’s cheaper to travel by two-wheelers or share autos and that fare hikes will make commute by BMTC buses unviable for them. Many also complained about inadequate buses on many routes through the day. Many students who voted also complained about the newly introduced policy and procedures for student passes. During the campaign, BBPV volunteers found many students standing in long queues to get their passes, likely missing their
While the poll, held over two hour’s window, covered only a small number of commuters, the results are reflective of the larger sentiment among commuters about the high ticket fares and the proposed hike. BBPV strongly opposes any move to hike the fares further. In line with our longstanding position on bus fares and recognizing that BMTC cannot run out of ticket collections alone, BBPV calls for increased financial support for BMTC to help reduce the fares and make BMTC affordable for the common people of Bengaluru.
Note: This press note was shared by Bengaluru Bus Prayanikara Vedike, and published here with minimal edits.