In a double whammy for Mumbaiites on Friday, suburban railway season ticket rates doubled and autorickshaw and taxi fares were hiked by Rs 2. While the new railway ticket rates will come into effect from June 25, autorickshaw and taxi fares will need the Bombay high court’s nod before drivers start charging them.
In one of the biggest hikes ever, the railway ministry on Friday announced a 14.2% hike in all passenger fares and a 6.5% increase in freight charges. The decision is expected to help the Railways mop up an additional Rs 8,000 crore during this fiscal.
The move came a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country should be ready for “tough decisions” to improve the economy.
However, for Mumbaiites, who are already reeling under the hike in food and fuel prices, this is a bitter pill to swallow.
Local trains, considered the city’s lifeline, are used by 75 lakh people on a daily basis. The steep hike is expected to hit season ticket buyers — 80% of those using the suburban trains — the most, with the rates of monthly and quarterly passes rising by almost 100%.
According to the tentative ticket revision formula provided by Western Railway, a secondclass monthly season ticket from Churchgate to Virar will cost Rs 645 as compared with Rs 280 at present, while a first-class monthly season ticket for the same distance will cost Rs 1,960 instead of Rs 1,035.
Read: Govt hikes rail fares by 14.2% with effect from June 25
As per the revised tariff, season tickets for longer distances will more than double.
The approximate i ncrease for a CST-Panvel second-class monthly pass will rise from Rs 335 to Rs720, while a CSTKalyan second-class monthly pass will cost Rs 645 as against Rs 280 at present.
The hike in rates for longdistance trains is not as high as the suburban rates.A journey between Mumbai and Delhi on the Rajdhani Express will cost Rs 4,073 instead of Rs 3,567 in AC- I, Rs 2,357 instead of Rs 2,064 in AC-II and Rs 1,617 instead of Rs 1,416 in AC-III.
What added to Mumbaiites’ misery on Friday was the announcement of Rs 2 hike in minimum fares (first 1.5 km) of autorickshaw and taxi fares. About 35,000 taxis and about 1.5 lakh autorickshaws ply on city roads.
The minimum fare of autorickshaw will go up from Rs 15 to Rs 17 and the fare for taxis will be Rs 21 as against Rs 19 at present.
However, drivers can’t charge these fares immediately, as the new fares will come into effect only after a nod from the Bombay high court.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA), chaired by transport secretary SK Sharma, decided to approach the court as the issue is sub-judice.
The HC is hearing a petition of consumer outfit Grahak Panchayat, challenging the formula to fix autotaxi tariff.
While confirming the fare revision, Sharma told HT, “Date of fare hike implementation and other things like calibration of e-meters will be decided after the high court’s decision.”
Consumer activists hoped the HC would take a right decision and give relief to commuters. “Now, court will decide fairness of fare hike,” said Shirish Deshpande, activist of Mumbai Grahak Panchayat.
Read: The real story behind railway passenger fare hike
Meanwhile, despite the fare hike, unions are disappointed with the decision. Taxi union leaders AL Quadros said the MMRTA has given them “just peanuts” without considering their demand of increasing basic distance to 2 km from the existing 1.5 km.
Auto union leader Sharad Rao said they haven’t received any official communication from the transport authorities, but there wasn’t any stay on reviewing fare hike.