Meeting to question BMTC’s fare hike

Vinay Sreenivasa, one of the indefatigable volunteers of Hasiru Usiru, writes:
 
Dear All,
 
As you may all be aware, the BMTC has biked bus fares by 16%, with the minimum rate now Rs. 6BMTC has been increasing the fares steeply every few months and the rate has almost doubled in the last 3 years.As a result even bus-travel has become unaffordable for a large number of people and they are forced to either walk or cut down on other essential expenditure.
 
Bus users in the city are a huge block (more than 40 lakhs) but as of now there is no voice questioning the BMTCs, unjustified hikes. The most recent hike raises a lot of questions which we need to question the State Government and BMTC on. 
 
A meeting has been called for to discuss this hike and what can be done. 
Time 5pm – 7pm, June 21 Friday
Venue : Alternative Law Forum, #122/4, Infantry Road, (ahead of Medinova Diagnostic Centre, next to Sri Balaji Plywoods), Bangalore – 560001. 
 
Various labour unions, groups working with the urban poor, RWAs, student groups and others will be invited to the meeting. The agenda will be to see if we can have collective action to force the government to roll back the hikes and also raise several questions which this hike has raised. 
 
Please do pass on this message and ask others interested to also attend the meeting. 
 
Some of the questions we need to ask the BMTC are – 
 
The BMTC cliams the service is running under loss and therefore the hike is required. 
 
The first question is:  what is the source of these losses? Is it  running run-down ordinary buses  that is  causing a loss, or is the source elsewhere? 
 
– BMTC continues to buy expensive Volvos and also offer subsidised tickets to those who can afford a Volvo ticket. This time the volvo rates have not been hiked. The expensive volvos continue to bleed BMTC and then the BMTC cites overall losses to justify the price hike. Why is it that the ordinary bus users have to subsidise the affluent volvo bus users?
 
– Why is the BMTC continuing to spend hundreds of crores on building TTMCs even after they have been criticized by the the Governments own Directorate of Urban Land transport (http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in/articles/3210-bmtc-new-ttmcs) . And then after building these, these are rented out to big corporates like Reliance, Food world etc with relaxed norms
 
 
Are the expensive volvos and the TTMCs causing the losses which are being passed on to the passengers of ordinary buses?
 
Secondly, assuming the ‘losses’ are legitimate, why should  the state government not subsidise an essential public provision like buses? The Metro is going to make huge losses, but the governments of Karnataka and India are happy to spend 13,000 crores on Phase 1 of the Metro and an estimated 28,000 crores for Phase 2 of the Metro. Can a loss of a few hundred crores not be covered up the state government so that the passengers are spared the steep hike? How can one justify an expense of 40,000 crores or more on the Metro in such a scenario?

Related to the earlier question –  Why does  BMTC have  to be a profit making entity? Isn’t this an essential public provision much like the Public Distribution System or public health? Ever since the erstwhile BTS has become BMTC , profits seem to be the prime motive of this agency, even at the cost of people.
 
These are just a few questions which need to be raised. We need to discuss these and much more when we meet. Please do make it to the meeting.
Deepa Mohan
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Deepa Mohan is a freelance writer and avid naturalist.