After autos, now BEST wants bus fare hike

BEST administration wants a Rs 2 hike, will be making a presentation before its committee members tomorrow, citing the reasons behind their proposal
Even as the auto commuters in the city digest news of the impending fare hike, the city's 43 lakh bus passengers have cause for concern. After the state transport authorities announced that auto fares are set to rise by 50 paise with effect from October 10, officials of the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) are lobbying for a similar hike in ticket fares, by at least Rs 2. According to reports, the BEST administration will be making a presentation on Friday to members of the BEST committee. Once the committee members sanction the proposal, the demand for a hike will be forwarded to the state transport department.

Best solution: The hike has been proposed in order to compensate the
heavy losses incurred by the transport body recently. File Pic

Bus fares had last been hiked two years ago, when the minimum ticket price had gone up from Rs 3 to Rs 4.

"During the presentation, we will be putting forward our justifications for a fare hike. We will highlight factors such as the recent hikes in the fuel prices, and the demand for increment from drivers, conductors and other employees," said a senior BEST official, on condition of anonymity.

Sources also revealed that the hike has been proposed in order to compensate the heavy losses incurred by the BEST's electricity supply division. The losses have reportedly escalated after the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) did not sanction the request for a hike in electricity tariffs, but instead brought down the cost per unit of supplied power.

"The refusal resulted in losses of Rs 225 crore each year," said another BEST official. The transport body has been mired in financial tribulations, ever since the numbers of daily commuters dropped from 45 to 43 lakh.

"The administration has proposed a hike, but we will definitely oppose it. Why can't the BMC take care of this shortfall?" asked Ravi Raja, a BEST committee member. BEST Spokesperson N Walavalkar confirmed that the meeting had been planned.

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