THRISSUR: A joint committee of private bus operators’ associations on Saturday called for an indefinite strike from February 4 demanding fare hike. Bus operators said fuel price increases have made their business unprofitable. They want the minimum fare to be raised to `10 from the `8.
The joint committee also sought to bring a parity in student concession with the KSRTC. At present the minimum concession charge is `1. But KSRTC collects that charges for two months in advance and issues a card for the travel. The committee said that such a system must be introduced in private buses too.
“Most of the bus operators are incurring losses and find it hard to continue the services. The state government should make a policy to protect us too, as we are also serving a large crowd,” said Lawrence Babu, chairman of joint committee of bus operator’s organisations. The bus operators alleged that the government is favouring KSRTC by denying permit to private buses that run on routes longer than 140 km or more. The committee demanded that the permits must be renewed immediately.
The committee said that GPS systems in buses should only be implemented when other states introduce them. It had earlier announced bus strike on December 20 and 22, but withdrew it following the discussions with Transport Minister A K Saseendran. During the discussion with the minister, he had promised to take a decision after the ministers’ delegation returned from their foreign jaunt. With no decision forthcoming, the committee has decided to go for the strike.
The number of private carriage buses plying on roads across the state has reduced to 12,000 from 34,000 in 2011. “This statistics itself shows the difficulties in surviving in this industry. People are now less dependent on public transportation so running bus services has become a high-risk business,” added T Gopinathan, general convener of the joint committee.