Increase in bus fare is turning out to be a bane for Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) leading to agitations and anxiety among the people.
The bus fare in Kerala is much higher when compared to the neighboring states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Puducherry. The minimum fare in the state is Rs 7 whereas it is Rs 3 in Tamil Nadu and Rs 5 and Rs 6 in Karnataka and Puducherry respectively. The bus fare has been hiked nine times since 2001, the last price hike being on May 14, last year. But in states like Tamil Nadu, the rates were increased only once during these years. The Transport Corporations in the neighboring states offer much better service than Kerala KSRTC. The increasing diesel prices are given as excuses for hiking the bus fares in the state when at the same time, the Transport Corporations are functioning with a hefty profit. Given the decrease in the diesel prices that have come down to Rs 50, the government has expressed the inability to bring down the bus fare putting people into further crisis. The earlier statements of the government that the increase in bus fares was due to hike in diesel prices have been proved false. It plainly displays the non-commitment of the government towards the people. It is evident that negligence, lack of professionalism and inability are the reasons behind the KSRTC crisis in the state. The matter has been a fodder for the media as well as a subject of heated debates and discussions.
It is not just the hike in the minimum charges but also the unscientific means and the drawbacks in fare stage settlement that is landing people in trouble. The shortcomings of the fare stages put forward by Justice C Ramachandran Commission that was appointed by the Transport Minister to resolve the issues pertaining to the matter, has already been criticized. The Committee after studying the hike in bus fares had submitted its report proposing a minimum fare of Rs 7 in ordinary buses. But Dejo Kappen of the Centre for Consumer Education said that no such committee was formed. He had approached the court against frequent bus fare hikes. Due to huge population and demand for public transport, the bus owners in the state make a huge profit daily. The government has not been transparent and sincere in the matter and is not concerned of the issues related to the public. The government brings up excuses of reviving the KSRTC for not bringing down the bus fares when in reality the bus owners lobby is the reason behind the quandary. It forgets that the people are aware of the scenario. The KSRTC is yet another instance of the government’s incapability to run a public sector organization successfully. It’s high time the government come out of the muddle of petty internal political conflicts, corruption and power and resolves the matters concerning the people.