Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had offered a three-month bailout package worth Rs 15,000 per private bus per month to help commuters’ get out of their travel nightmare.Kolkata: The losses incurred due to spiralling diesel prices have again prompted private operators to refuse to run buses till fares are revised. On Monday, if they stay off the road, it may take the situation back to that of the initial days of Unlock 1.0 when the demand-supply gap was at its widest.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had offered a three-month bailout package worth Rs 15,000 per private bus per month to help commuters’ get out of their travel nightmare. But bus operators have stuck to their demand of fare revision.
“We think fare revision is the only way out. We have spent our all resources to fulfil our commitment as operators of an essential service. We expected the government would revise the fare keeping in mind the Covid-19 crisis and hikes in diesel price,” said Tapan Bandyopadhyay, secretary of Joint Council of Bus Syndicates, after a general body meeting.
A Bengal Bus Syndicate (BBS) leader said, “We have run buses despite incurring huge losses but can no more pressurise our members.” BBS members said they have no doubt about the intent of the CM, but added that the subsidy cannot compensate for the losses.
West Bengal Bus and Minibus Owners’ Association secretary Pradip Narayan Basu said it is now up to the individual operator to run a bus or not. “We are not in a position to issue a whip,” he added.
On Sunday, there was some respite as diesel price stood at Rs 75.51/L — the same as that on Saturday. Diesel price has grown by Rs 9.90/L compared to the Rs 65.61/L on June 6. The last bus fare revision had been in June 2018. In the probable absence of private buses, the state transport undertakings will run its fleet to full throttle on Monday.
WBTC will hit the road with nearly 1,400 buses, its optimum fleet size, 200 will be run by SBSTC. Private operators will run 100 AC buses. “We expect a lot of private buses to also ply defying the diktat of the operators’ syndicates,” said a transport department officer.
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