Bus fare hiked in capital, Delhiites upset (Second Lead)

October 26th, 2009 - 8:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, Oct 26 (IANS) Commuting in the capital on the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses became costlier from Monday as the government hiked fares, and after a 30-year freeze steeply raised the student pass from Rs.12.50 to Rs.100 per month.
“DTC has been striving hard to augment its city transport fleet, for which a huge capital investment is required. Further, the DTC has implemented recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission, resulting in a substantial burden on its finances,” Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit told reporters here after her cabinet meeting decided to raise city bus fares.

“Apart from this, the operational cost is also increasing day-by-day. Keeping all this in view, it became necessary to effect a justified hike in fare structure so that at least a portion of deficit and losses could be taken care of,” she said.

“The decision to hike the fares has been taken after seven years. The rate of the student pass has been increased after 30 years,” Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely said.

A Rs.3 ticket will now cost Rs.5, the Rs.7 ticket has been upped to Rs.10, and the Rs.10 fare to Rs.15. The government has also increased rates of the monthly pass, the daily pass and the student pass. A daily pass that cost Rs.25 will now come for Rs.40 while monthly pass has gone up from Rs.450 to Rs.800.

On the DTC’s air-conditioned buses, commuters will have to pay Rs.10 for a ride up to three kilometers, Rs.15 for a journey between three to 10 km, and Rs.25 for a journey beyond 10 km. For the air-conditioned airport services, new fare will be Rs.75 whereas for non-AC airport service it will be Rs.50.

But the government has not increased fares for senior citizens (Rs.250 in non-AC buses and Rs.350 in AC buses) and mediapersons (Rs.100 a month).

Besides approving the revision of DTC bus fares, the cabinet also cleared the purchase of 1,000 low-floor buses, including 750 non-AC and 250 air-conditioned CNG buses against earlier decision to purchase 1,000 semi-low floor buses.

According to the transport minister, talks were underway with the urban development ministry to allow commercial use of DTC bus depots. “Whatever profit we will earn from that would be given back to the people,” he added.

The decision came in for flak from the ruling Congress, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and daily commuters.

Even Delhi Congress chief J.P. Agarwal, MP from northeast Delhi, expressed his displeasure.

“I am not aware of the details but I am definitely unhappy about this bus fare hike and can completely empathise with the common man. While a hike in the fare has been due, this is not the right time to increase fares. People are still reeling under recession,” Aggarwal told IANS.

Demanding an immediate roll-back and threatening street protests, BJP’s Leader of Opposition in the Delhi assembly V.K. Malhotra said the increase in bus fares was a “double whammy” for the poor.

“In an environment of unprecedented inflation, when people of weaker sections of society are struggling to make ends meet, this increase in bus fares hits them where it hurts the most,” the senior BJP leader said.

Vimla Devi, 55, who works as a housemaid, said: “They don’t want poor people to live. It has become impossible to travel. How can they do this? Cost of all essential things, including sugar, vegetables and pulses have gone up. Now this. This is not justified.”

Former Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) president, Ragini Nayak said that while a hike in bus fares may be necessary, it is important that it is done in phases.

“I used to travel in DTC buses everyday and know how precious my bus pass was! Being a student you have a fixed budget so instead of raising the fare so much, probably what can be done is increase the fare to Rs.25-30 for say, five years, and then review it after that,” Nayak told IANS.

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