Kochi: The bus owners’ joint strike committee has demanded an increase in the fare for students to Rs 6.
The bus owners also demanded that the minimum fare for other passengers be increased to Rs 12. If these are not accepted, the bus owners have decided to start an indefinite strike from the 21st of this month.
Earlier, private bus owners had demanded an increase in bus fares in the state. Following this, Transport Minister Antony Raju intervened and held discussions with the bus owners. The transport minister had assured the bus owners that a decision on raising the bus fare would be taken within two weeks.
But the bus owners’ union officials alleged that the minister did not keep his word. The minister said he would hold discussions with Justice Ramachandran Nair commission, who has learned about the bus fare hike, and representatives of student organizations. Lawrence Babu, chairman of the Bus Owners’ Joint Strike Committee, said no action had been taken in the case.
When the price of diesel was Rs 62 per liter, the minimum charge was fixed at Rs 8. At present, diesel costs Rs 92. Rs 30 increased. That is why there is a demand for a quick rate hike. The members of the strike committee also pointed out that the Justice Ramachandran Nair Commission had demanded that the minimum charge should be increased to Rs.10.
Following covid, KSRTC demanded higher rates for transporting children to and from schools. The government knows that it will cost a lot of money. However, officials said the government was not ready to increase rates.
More than 35000 private buses were in service in Kerala. But now it has dropped to 12,500. In covid’s scenario, the number of people boarding buses also decreased. In this case, it is not possible to move forward without a rate hike, officials said.
Neither students nor parents are opposed to raising fares. Opposition is only to student groups, the bus owners said.