Bus fare to go up by 25 percent in Himachal



The bus fares in Himachal will be hiked by twenty five percent. Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has today said that the proposal for increasing the bus fares will come up for the approval in the next cabinet meeting.

As per the new rates the fares in hilly areas of the state that is almost 80 per cent of the state’s total area will be increased by 18.50 paise per kilometer and 11.90 paise per kilometer in the plain areas.

The Chief Minster said that the fare hike should be seen in perspective of viability of running the public utility service, which has been badly hit due to hike in oil prices and several other inputs that shot up the cost of operation manifolds.

As per the draft proposal framed the fare in hilly areas will increase from the current 74 paise per kilometer to 92.50 paise per kilometer and in the plain areas will go up from 42.50 paise per kilometer to 59.40 paise per kilometer.

Will it not affect the poor people of the state badly, the CM said that the hike proposed by the government is much lesser than the Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) had actually targeted. “The HRTC wanted to increase the bus fares by 90 per cent but keeping view the public interest we kept it to only 25 percent.”

The HRTC has payments of Rs. 90 crore pending and due to recurring losses, year after year it has not been able to pay to its employees overtime allowance and night allowance to bus drivers and conductors.


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  1. THE 25% HIKE

    It all happened during a short journey by HRTC bus last weekend. As soon as I got out of the village bus, I could find the connecting bus to my destination, roaring its engine to start. Without giving a second thought I just boarded it. I asked for a seat in middle but it was packed. The conductor directed me to seat no 2-3 just behind the conductor seat for night services. I made myself comfortable after taking ticket at 25% higher rate than the one I have taken the day before to my friend’s homeward journey. Soon I dosed off to sleep after a long bumpy backbreaking tour so far.

    Almost an hour before reaching my destination I was back from the slumber. The lights were off inside the bus and Driver and conductor were engaged in a conversation. It took me some time before I could get the topic of their discussion. It was much about the 25 % bus fare hike in the state. I sat back and concentrated on their talk, knowing their point of view on the recent move of state Government.

    The driver looked in his 50s and the conductor was quite young and new to this route, looking as young as me. I didn’t know for how long the discussion was going on, but I heard this point forward…

    Driver: Our RMs have more apple boxes accumulated during season, than few poor people in the region can afford to grow. Every then and now driver and conductors come with complementary apple boxes for RMs. In turn RM exploit them time and again to get free of cost apple boxes. Not only this, drivers of long routes are asked to deliver these boxes to their relatives in cities like Chandigarh, Delhi and lower parts of the state. Poor drivers have to deliver the boxes during their official resting time, despite their nightlong tiring jouney. Above all the expenses of autos and other conveyance are borne by the drivers out of their pockets. This is the height of exploitation we are facing.

    Cond: After a pause….

    Yah, its been happening for long and gets repeated with every RM.

    (In between there were some different talks and then driver started again)

    Driver: Recently we got the Quota of tyres for our depots across the district, but unfortunately on the same night four of the new tyre tubes brusted in different routes of HRTC. What a conincidence? The supplier was same for that whole lot. It’s just the corruption that has eaten deep into HRTC in its each operational area. Be it tyre supply or the spare parts, the commission is taken long before the supplies are made and result are clear. In one case the front wheel brusted when bus was moving above 70-km/hr speed on highway. The corrupt officials and politicians put about 40-50 lives at stake. Thanks to power steering or else, with mechanical steering it would have been a disastrous ride for passengers.

    The driver continued…

    Not only this, officially we are not supposed to change the wheels in case of punctures. Mechanics from nearest depot are to be called and they only can change the wheels. But usually not to waste time of the passenger we take the pain to change wheels. If by chance we happen to get injuries or break our bones we loose our wages. In case we don’t change then officials say “ you could have done it yourself rather than getting a mechanic”. Only us are to be blamed. We are always caught in dilemma “Ek taraf Khai aur ek taraf Kuan”.

    It went for long and I did get an insight of this darker face of HRTC.

    It did throw some light on what happens in some depot of HRTC. So the recent hike of 25% is justified to an extent in favour of the big boses.

    Governments will change and so will their interest. The challenge to the ruling Government and past Government so far have been “How to turn HRTC into profit making organization?” State Transport minister Mr. Kishan Kapor should be aggressive in framing policies and strategies for changing the image and face of the way HRTC is being looked upon.

    Although railways have a tough competition from airways and state roadways in other states, but luckily in Himachal Road Transport enjoys the monopoly of serving people. Surprisingly it HRTC have been accruing losses for decades.

    For this lot of homework need to be done by the Government. For researcher like me, it makes an excellent case study. If other states can do it why not HRTC? If Laloo can do it for railways why not Kappor Sahib for HRTC?. Or Government is following the policy where hike the fares once in power and then wait and watch for four years. Whatever little is to be done will be taken up in last year.

    One last point, wine has always been hailed as a “Turup ka ikka” (Trump Card) by politicians in the state. I have observed for long and so might have u all, with hike in prices of basic commodities Government also curtail the price of wines. This is where the so called innocent people are being taken for ride by our political bosses.


    Mr. Bonjour

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