The government on Sunday announced a fresh increase in long-route bus fares by seven per cent to adjust the cost of operation after the latest increase in fuel oil prices.
The bus fare hike comes into effect on Tuesday.
Passengers of long-route buses will have to pay Tk 0.10 more for a kilometre from Tuesday. With this, the government raised bus fares by Tk 0.25 a kilometre in two phases in last two years and a half because of an increase in the price of diesel by Tk 24 a litre.
Earlier on December 31, 2011, the government increased the long-route bus fare from Tk 1.20 to Tk 1.35 per km after the diesel price had been increased from Tk 56 to Tk 61 a litre in that phase.
The communications minister, Obaidul Quader, after a brief meeting at the conference room in the ministry said that the government had to consider the interests of the passengers as well as transport owners while increasing the bus fare.
Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity Secretary general Mozammel Haque Chowdhury, who had attended as an observer the communications ministry meeting on refixing bus fares on January 15, criticised the latest increase saying that so much increase in the bus fare was hardly justifiable.
‘If the costing committee had made a thorough analysis of the operation costs, the fare hike would not have been more than five paisa,’ he told New Age on Sunday.
‘A 10 paisa increase in bus fare per kilometre is apparently too little an amount, but we have to pay Tk 80 for a trip between Dhaka and Chapainawabganj at this rate,’ said Abdullah Tahir, a businessman who commutes between Dhaka and Chapainawabganj regularly.
The minister admitted that the transport owners were charging extra from long-route passengers before the government officially fixed the fare.
‘Even the staff of BRTC [Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation] buses are charging extra from passengers in the city,’ Obaidul Quader added.
But the fares of buses and minibuses operating in
Dhaka and Chittagong metropolitan cities were not raised as most of them were CNG-run buses.
After the fresh seven per cent fare hike, long-route bus fare will now be Tk 1.45 a kilometre after the government increased diesel price from Tk 61 per litre to Tk 68. Earlier the fare was Tk 1.35 a kilometre.
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority’s costing committee on Thursday had suggested a rise in long-route bus fare from Tk 1.35 to Tk 1.54 a kilometre, but government rejected the proposal.
Earlier on January 13, the committee had proposed to fix the fare at Tk 1.58 per km but revised its proposal in line with a communications ministry directive.
‘We have re-fixed the fare at Tk 1.45 a kilometre by slashing 13 paisa from the costing committee’s proposal for a Tk 1.58 fare per kilometre,’ said adding that he was not aware of any second proposal of the costing committee.
About the transport owners’ proposal for increasing the fare of diesel-run buses and minibuses operating in Dhaka and Chittagong metropolitan cities, the minister said that a proposal would be sent to prime minister Sheikh Hasina for a final decision.
Bangladesh Road Transport Owners’ Association secretary general Khandaker Enayet Ullah said that in December 2011, the government had slashed only eight paisa from the costing committee’s proposal for long- route bus fare, but this time it was a 13 paisa the reduction.
‘I think this decision would cause financial losses to transport owners,’ he said and urged the government to increase the fare of diesel-run buses and minibuses operating in Dhaka and Chittagong cities.
Sunday’s meeting at the ministry was attended, among others, by communications secretary MAN Siddique, BRTA chairman Mohammad Ayubur Rahman Khan and director (engineering) Mohammad Saiful Hoque, BRTOA leader Rustom Ali Khan, Bangladesh Bus Truck Owners’ Association vice president Ramesh Chandra Ghosh, Shohag Paribahan managing director Mohammad Faruk Talukder Sohel and Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity secretary general Mozammel Haque Chowdhury.
-With New Age input