Already reeling under price rise, people of Himachal Pradesh have got another shocker as the state government on Saturday announced 30% hike in fares of state-run and privately-operated buses in wake of the rise in petrol and diesel prices. The minimum fare for local buses would also increase to Rs. 5 from Rs. 2.
The revised fares will be effective from October 1. However, the government has also put a cap on the increase in bus fares for the next two years.
“The bus fares in Himachal Pradesh were already less as compared to other hill states. To overcome huge losses incurred by the Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC), we have decided to increase the fares by 30% in all categories of buses,” said transport minister GS Bali, while announcing the hike, adding that the private bus operators were also demanding hike in fares.
“We have put a cap on increase in the bus fares for the next two years and if diesel prices come down, the tariffs will be reviewed and reduced accordingly,” Bali said, adding that the bus pass fee for the school and college students would remain as earlier for next one year.
Official sources said the hike in fares would help HRTC reducing the operational losses by `50 crore annually. The last hike was implemented by the HRTC in March 2010. Nearly 3,000 private buses are plying in the state, besides state-run Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC), which has a fleet of over 2,100 buses.
He said the bus fares in Himachal were `1.11 per km as compared to `1.52 in the neighboring hill state - Uttarakhand.
“With this hike, we will not only be able to overcome the losses incurred by HRTC, but also compete with the other state transports,” he claimed. Bali also announced to run special buses in different circles on the fixed ticket price. The fares in these special buses would be 30% less than the actual rates.
He added that strict action would be taken against private bus operators for non-payment of state road tax (SRT) and defaulters' list would be displayed in all HRTC offices.
“The defaulter bus operators will not be entitled to any modification in timings and routes and their vehicles could also be impounded,” said Bali, adding that the government was also contemplating to revise the SRT, which is on lower side as compared to other states.
Ticketless travelling banned
Expressing grief over the bus accident in Sirmaur, which claimed 21 lives on Friday, Bali said he has constituted a committee headed by director, transport, to recommend long-term safety steps.
He said, “Ticketless travelling will not be allowed at any cost as it not only leads to tax evasion, but also creates problems during insurance claims. An inspection force will also be constituted for regular checking of government as well as private buses.”
Online booking through private agents
Bali also announced online booking in HRTC buses through private agents for which the passengers will be given 5% discount, while the booking agent will also get 5% commission.
Besides, the government is also contemplating to allow the private bus operators to display advertisements which will be helpful in increasing the revenue. The bus operators could collaborate with private company or HRTC under this initiative.
The minister said 500 more buses would be added into the fleet of HRTC. The state will also get 500 buses under JNNURM.