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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Public transport pinching pockets

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, January 11, 2013
First Published: 01:28 IST(11/1/2013) | Last Updated: 01:29 IST(11/1/2013)

For a city that’s always on the move, commuting in Mumbai has become substantially costlier in the last year alone.

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All modes of public transport, including trains, buses, auto rickshaws and taxis, have registered a fare hike of 15 to 35% in one year.

For instance, a five-km journey now costs Rs. 3 more in a BEST bus, Re 1 more by train, and a whopping Rs. 15 more by auto or taxi.

Even those using private vehicles are paying more than Rs. 4 per litre more on petrol, and more than Rs. 7 per litre extra on diesel.

For the 75 lakh Mumbaiites who rely on the suburban train network, fares are set to go up further, with the railway ministry announcing an across-the-board fare hike on Wednesday.

Starting January 22, second-class tickets will cost 2 paise more per km, and first-class tickets will be hiked by 3-paise per km.

This comes just 9 days after the railways decided to levy a 24% Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) charge on suburban tickets. The hike will pinch the pockets of first-class commuters in particular, as it is the fourth one in the last 10 months.

The BEST undertaking, which transports more than 40 lakh commuters daily, hiked fares by 33-35% last April. It has now proposed another hike in the next financial year, owing to the steep increase in diesel prices.

Auto and taxi commuters, which constitute 9-10% of public transport users also recently witnessed a steep increase in fares, which have  gone up by 30% since last October and a new hike is expected in May this year.

Experts warn that the steep price hikes, without much improvement in services, could discourage people from using public transport. “Unfortunately, there aren’t too many alternatives available to them,” said transport expert Jagdeep Desai.

Expert and consumer activist AV Shenoy said more people could switch to two-wheelers. “This would be dangerous as most bikers don’t follow traffic rules.”

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