Diesel price hike forces buses to idle in Kolkata

Commercial Vehicle - - NEWS / CV MONITOR -

Com­muters across West Ben­gal and more specif­i­cally in the cap­i­tal city of Kolkata are at the re­ceiv­ing end as a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of pri­vate buses are off the roads. In the ab­sence of timely fare re­vi­sion, op­er­a­tors deem it fit to not run loss mak­ing buses at all. The op­er­a­tors had post­poned this with­drawal to af­ter the fes­tive sea­son in the hope of a fare re­vi­sion. How­ever, the re­cent hike of 18 paise, which has added to the al­ready con­sid­er­able hike of Rs 5.87 per litre has put paid to such hopes.

It is es­ti­mated that daily earn­ings of a pri­vate bus op­er­a­tor is around Rs 5,500 per day, while the ex­pen­di­ture has gone be­yond Rs 7,200. The sorry sce­nario is not con­fined to the pri­vate sec­tor alone. Even the five trans­port PSUs (pub­lic sec­tor un­der­tak­ings) have the same grouse. The monthly fuel bill of CSTC and CTC has in­creased by about Rs 95 lakh. Ac­cord­ing to the trans­port depart­ment the fuel bill for South Ben­gal State Trans­port Cor­po­ra­tion (SBSTC) has in­creased by about Rs 40 lakh per month, while that for the North Ben­gal State Trans­port Cor­po­ra­tion (NBSTC), soared close to Rs 60 lakh per month and West Ben­gal Sur­face Trans­port Cor­po­ra­tion (WBSTC) rose by Rs 10 lakh.

Though the PSUs get sub­sidy to the tune of Rs 600 crore per year the fu­ture is bleak as the state gov­ern­ment has re­cently made it clear that the sub­sidy regime will not continue in­def­i­nitely.

Call for 60 per­cent hike

Pri­vate bus op­er­a­tors in West Ben­gal have de­manded a 60 per­cent hike in fares ow­ing to in­creased diesel rates. The re­cent hike in diesel has hit most of the op­er­a­tors across the state with over 50 per­cent of the 685 buses be­ing fer­ried un­der the JNNURM scheme be­ing pulled off the roads. The op­er­a­tors want the min­i­mum fare for non-AC JNNURM buses to be in­creased from the present Rs 5 to Rs 8. Oil prices have shot up by 45 per­cent since 2009 lead­ing to higher oper­at­ing costs for bus op­er­a­tors.

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