After the diesel price hike comes the inevitable: the strike by private bus operators. They have threatened to go on strike from September 24 midnight demanding an increase in the minimum ticket fare.
Kerala State Private Bus Operators Federation general secretary Lawrence Babu said here that the minimum bus fare should be increased from Rs 5 to Rs 7.
“Private bus operators have been hit hard by the hike in diesel rates because the rates of other products such as oil, grease and spare parts will automatically increase affecting our revenue,” he said.
The per-kilometre charge has to be increased by 10 paise, he demanded.
The private bus operators also want a hike in student charge by 50 per cent. “Currently, a student is only paying ten per cent of the minimum fare as concession. This is very unfair as in the past the concession was 25 per cent of the minimum fare,’’ Lawrence added.
In an earlier meeting, five associations of the private bus owners had joined together to form a confederation called the Kerala State Bus Confederation to strengthen the strike. The associations include members from the Kerala State Private Bus Operators Federation, the Kerala Private Bus Operators Association, Kerala Bus Transport Association, Kerala Private Bus Operators Forum and the Kerala Limited Stop Bus Operators Association.
The private bus operators have also demanded a new transport policy to protect the interests of the KSRTC and the private buses.
“Currently, the KSRTC is free from many norms applicable to private buses. For example, they don’t have the liability of student concession cards as much as we do,” said Kerala Bus Transport Association State secretary K A Najeeb.
Lawrence also said the policy of scrapping buses after 15 years should be removed.
In Thrissur, the Kerala Bus Operators Coordination Committee has threatened to go on an indefinite strike from October 1 demanding increase in fares in view of the sky rocketing fuel prices.