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Private bus operators seek fare hike

“We will not go against government by going on strike”

Namakkal: Private bus operators and education institutions in this emerging educational district are irked by the diesel price hike. President of the Namakkal District Bus Operators Association Jothi V. Kuppusamy told The Hindu that the hike has put the future of the State's private bus operations in jeopardy.

“It has only added fuel to fire as we are already badly hit by the State government's decision not to increase ticket fares. The current rates were introduced in 2001 – 28 paise per kilometre. “The fuel price then was Rs. 18.75 per litre and one can imagine the difficulty we face in running operations even after the price has increased by about Rs. 25,” Mr. Kuppusamy added.

After factoring in additional expenditure consequent to the recent diesel price hike, the association president said that the cost per day of expenses for diesel would be Rs. 500, he said and added that he has been spending the last two days pacifying members of the association, worried over operating buses in the present situation.

“However, we would not go against the government by resorting to a strike as we do not want the common man to suffer. We would make representations to the government through the federation to consider either revoking the hike or increasing ticket rates, Mr. Kuppusamy said. “We feel that dispensing with a couple of trips would profitable as an interim cost cutting measure till the government takes a decision, he said.

While this is the fate of the 4,600 private buses of the State, the government transport department that operates close to 20,000 buses would be additionally burdened, he observed. He said the government department had mechanisms to make up for the loss with subsidies coming in from other profit making departments.

With education institutions operating more than thrice the number of private buses in this district, the managements are concerned over the diesel price hike as most of them have already collected transportation fees from the students.

“With the fuel price increasing by 10.9 per cent we do not know how to revise the charges,” one of them said.

Chairman of Vivekanandha Educational Institution for Women Dr. M. Karunanidhi said that the 200 buses and 50 vans they operated to provide free transportation to the students had a consumption level of 1.25 lakh litres of diesel every month.

“The hike means an additional expense of Rs. 54.6 lakh annually in addition to the Rs. 9 crore we have been spending every year for the fuel and maintenance expenses,” he added.

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