Pvt buses not to hike fares ?

| 02 October 2000 23:02 IST

Unlike transport operators all over the country, Goa's public transport operators have decided not to hike the bus fare in spite of a steep hike in petroleum prices.

The government however feels that the fare hike is inevitable.

While gaining public sympathy on one hand, the private bus operators here however want to hit the exchequer indirectly. Instead of the fare hike, they demand scrapping of the passenger tax and road tax.

"If this is done, then we can easily operate our buses with the existing rates", says Adv Subhash Sawant, president of the Goa Bus Operators' Association. Over 70 per cent public transport is controlled by private operators here from Portuguese days.

The transport department charges towards the passenger tax at the rate of Rs 30 for every passenger on monthly basis while the road tax is a flat rate of Rs 1700 for three months.

"How is that possible", asks transport minister Somnath Juwarkar, stating that it would simply mean reducing the revenue collection which the debt-ridden government is not in a position to consider.

Rather than that, Juwarkar prefers going for a fare hike after studying the patterns of the neighbouring Maharashtra and Karnataka states. He has convened a meeting of officials tomorrow in this regard.

"We would not be able to run it without hike", states S D Desai, managing director of the Kadamba Transport Corporation, the sole state-funded public transport corporation, controlling hardly 30 per cent public transport especially in rural areas.

Though the KTC is also planning to discuss the issue tomorrow, Desai feels that it would not be possible to push the whole burden on a traveller since it would ultimately amount to people travelling less.

As the tourist season is just picking up, the fare hike would however badly hit the tourists not only while travelling in the buses but also taxis, autorikshaws and motorcycles.

In fact, having no efficient network to control the fares of hired vehicles, taxis etc have already hiked their prices as per their whims and fancies. The fuel hike would thus add to the agony of the tourists, who are overcharged by the taxis even otherwise.

In spite of the high court giving directive to the state government to strictly implement the meter system for taxis and autorikshaws, not a single hired vehicle follows the meter system here while the transport officials are least bothered about the contempt of court they are committing.

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