The hike in diesel prices, which the Centre announced on Thursday, may lead to an increase in bus fares in the city, in the range of 10% to 15%.
The government partially deregulated diesel prices on Thursday allowing a hike of 40 to 50 paise a litre for retail customers and nearly Rs. 11 for bulk consumers with immediate effect.
“The hike in fuel price is shocking and will increase the burden on BEST by about Rs. 43 crore. The only option left with us will be to hike fares,” said Ashok Patil, chairman of BEST Committee.
Even other bus transport authorities such as the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) and municipal transport undertakings in the Mumbai metropolitan region such as the Thane Municipal Transport and Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport might hike ticket fares in coming months.
From Friday, diesel costs for the BEST undertaking was Rs64.25 a litre and Rs65 a litre for MSRTC buses.
Last April, BEST had hiked its fare by a substantial 35%. Therefore when diesel prices went up by Rs. 5 last August, BEST did not increase fares.
However, it had already proposed a price hike from April 1, 2013. But, BEST administration might advance the hike now.
“We will calculate the exact burden and decide,” added Patil.
MSRTC too is contemplating a 12% to 15% fare hike to adjust the Rs520 crore burden because of the fuel hike, said sources. MSRTC has hiked ticket rates twice since last April because of diesel price hikes.
“If ticket rates of public transport buses are hiked further, they would become as expensive as private buses,” said an MSRTC official.