Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 4:
The Odisha Government today announced a cut in bus fares in the state by 1 paisa per kilometre across all categories of passenger bus services.
After the 1 paisa cut, fare for ordinary buses has come down from 60 to 59 paise per km, that of express buses from 63 to 62 paise per km, deluxe buses from 83 to 82 paise and AC buses from Rs 1.02 to Rs 1.01 per km.
The first downward revision of bus fares of the year follows substantial cut of Rs 2.25 in diesel prices announced ny the three principal public sector oil marketing companies (OMCs) yesterday.
While announcing the fare cut, Transport minister Ramesh Chandra Majhi hinted that there could be another cut in the near future.
“Today’s cut in bus fares was announced on the basis of the fall in diesel prices by Rs 2.25 paise in January. Since another cut for the same amount has been announced yesterday, there may be a further reduction in fares after the technical committee goes into it,” Majhi said.
In the second half of 2014, the price of diesel had come down by Rs 9.17 in four revisions while the bus fare was reduced by only 4 paisa per kilometre.
It may be mentioned that, irrespective of repeated demands from the passengers and private bus owner’s association, the government has neither shown any sincerity in implementing the automatic fare correction system, wherein the fare goes up or down as per the market price of fuel, nor does it take a call on revised fare soon after the change in fuel price.
For example, it took nearly a month for the government to announce a fare cut after diesel prices were reduced in January.
The Transport Minister Ramesh Majhi continues to reiterate that government will implement the automated system. However, he shies away from making a commitment about a definite time frame to implement such a system.
“We welcome the drop in diesel prices. We would like it to drop even further. This is in the interest of our business as more passengers can afford the fare. We have been demanding an automatic system to decide the fares from a long time,” said an executive of the Private Bus owner’s Association.
A meeting of the Technical Committee of Transport Department was held in January to consider fare correction after drop in diesel prices. However, the government couldn’t hold its own in front of the pressure of Private Bus owner’s Association. The report of the committee was also not released.
The state government has put the automatic fare correction system on hold since past six months. Senior executives of the transport department had visited Maharashtra and Kerala to study their pricing system and have already submitted their report. However, no action has been taken on the report.