The bus fare increases are irrational, and unnecessary. There are at least three things which are wrong, and if these are fixed the bus service could be a lot better without needing to over-charge the poor.
a) The government needs to recognise, in its budget, that bus service is a public service that needs subsidy. All over the world public transport is subsidised, because it is well-known that the positive values that result – lower congestion, for example – are far in excess of the subsidy itself. For some reason, the Karnataka government has steadfastly refused to subsidise the BMTC. An annual subsidy of at least 200 crores is needed.
b) Government should have a proper parking policy, and enforce it. As long as public space can be treated as a freebie by shopkeepers and companies and home-owners, they will never fully realise the cost of their private choices. BMTC would be a lot more attractive if you had to pay to park your bike or scooter wherever you took it.
c) Let ticket prices be set by a regulator, similar to BESCOM. The regulator can then force the BMTC to measure the ‘service’ levels and constantly improve them. Now, there is no clear metric for how good the service is, and many neighbourhoods don’t have bus service at all. A minimum level of service needs to be established for all parts of the city.
The sad part about so much of governance is that the answers to so many problems have been known for decades.