‘Operators have no plans to reduce bus fares’
Srinagar, Feb 6: Though the oil price has plummeted, commuters are incensed that there is no corresponding drop in bus fares. “Bus fare has never been based on the increase of fuel prices alone,” said Sheikh Mohd Yusuf, secretary-general of the All Kashmir transporters welfare Association.
Petrol price was on Feb 3 cut by Rs 2.42 per litre and diesel by Rs 2.25 per litre in line with a decline in international oil prices. Now diesel is available at Rs 49.45 per litre in Jammu and Kashmir, and petrol at Rs 62.39 litre.
Even though bus fares increase as the fuel price does, they do not decrease with it. “We wouldn’t make a profit. Our price never decreases,” said Mohd Rafi beigh, secretary-general of All Kashmir Passenger Minibus Transport federation.
“The bus fares should also go down. When the price for fuel goes up the buses also increase their prices. Everything must be cheap now, even the price of bread,” said commuter Faisal Rashid, adding “If the price for fuel increases by Rs 4, the bus goes up by Rs 4.” Faisal spends Rs 100 daily travelling from Charari Sharief to Srinagar and back.
“Monthly travel costs for my family members is nearly 50% of our earning,” said Mrs. Tabish Khan, resident of Soura.
Sheikh Mohd Yusuf, secretary-general of the All Kashmir transporters welfare Association added that increases are dependent on the commodities and services that the bus industry requires, and these do not decrease with the fuel price. According to General Secretary, bus fares depend on the aggregate price of vehicle maintenance, parts, car loans and fuel combined.
The significant drop in the fuel price came a day after international crude oil prices continuing to rule below $50 per barrel and the three state-run oil marketing companies (OMCs) decided to reduce petrol and diesel prices.
On top of tuition fees, prospective students need to worry about transport costs. Students who own cars will be thrilled to pay less at the petrol pumps, but for the majority of students, the fuel price decline does not equate to a decline in taxi and bus fare.
Bus operators have no plans to reduce bus fares despite the drop in pump prices for diesel this month as fuel cost only makes up a small portion of their operational expenses, Secretary told Greater Kashmir.
All Kashmir Bus Operators Association President Haji Bashir Ahmad said that fuel was only a small component of the operational costs, and that there were other factors including employees’ wages, passenger tax, body fabric charges, bank interests and token tax that needed to be taken into account.
“Buses run daily, even on public holidays, so we need to pay our employees double or triple their daily wage on these days which goes into our operational costs,” he was quoted as saying.
“We have completed the proposal for reducing bus fares and today in Jammu we are calling a meeting,” said an official from office of Transport Commissioner.