Himachal hikes bus fares by 30 percent

Shimla, Sep 28 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh Transport Minister G.S. Bali Saturday announced a hike in fares of state-run buses by 30 percent in view of the rise in petrol and diesel prices. The revised fares will be effective from Oct 1.

"Our fares were already on the lower side as compared to other hill states. To overcome the losses of the Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC), we have decided to increase the fares by 30 percent in categories of buses," he told reporters in Dharamsala.

He said even the private bus transporters in the state had been demanding the hike in fares.

The minimum fare for local buses would also increase to Rs.5 from Rs.2, the minister said.

The minister also assured that there would be no further hike in bus fares for the next two years.

"If the petroleum prices come down, then this hike would be reviewed," he added.

Official sources said the hike in fares would help HRTC reducing the operational losses by Rs.50 crore annually. The last hike was implemented by the HRTC in March 2010.

The private bus operators in the state earlier this month demanded hike in bus fare.

A delegation of Himachal Private Bus Operators Association, led by its president J.R. Sharma, called on Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh here and urged him to increase bus fares in view of the rise in price of diesel.

Private transport operators, under the banner of the State Private Bus Operators Union, went on statewide daylong strike Aug 26 over their demands, including increase in fare by 40 percent.

Nearly 3,000 private buses are plying in the state, besides state-run Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC), which has a fleet over 2,100 buses.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has criticised the bus fare hike and said it was totally "unjustified" at a time when the people are already reeling under price rise.

"Thirty per cent hike in bus fares and increase in the minimum fare of local buses from Rs.2 to Rs.5, which worked out to be 150 percent, is a cruel joke with the people," state BJP chief Satpal Satti said in a statement.

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