Punjab’s private bus operators demand hike in fares

Chandigarh, Aug 3 (IANS) The Punjab Motor Union (PMU), an organisation of private passenger bus operators, Tuesday appealed to the state government to increase bus fares and cut down motor vehicle tax in view of the recent fuel price hike.

‘Our businesses have been incurring losses for the last many months and this recent hike in diesel prices has aggravated the situation. We are unable to pay the increased government taxes and other transport fees,’ Jagdish Sahni, PMU president and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Punjab, told reporters here Tuesday.

‘In 2003, we were charging 39 paise per kilometre and there has been an increase of only 17 paise in the last seven years. On the other hand, work load and maintenance costs have increased manifold during this period. We demand an immediate increase to 65 paise from the current 56 paise per kilometre.’

Besides state-owned transport, 2,300 private buses ply in Punjab and the livelihood of over 6,000 people is directly dependent on them.

‘Many bus operators have decided to leave this business which will affect hundreds of families. We had met the officials concerned and apprised them about the situation. So far, we have received no response. But we will not sit quietly and intensify our campaign from here,’ Sahni said.

Talking about their demands, R.S. Bajwa, secretary of PMU said: ‘Besides an increase of nine paise per kilometre, Value Added Tax (VAT) should be reduced on diesel on the lines of Delhi. There should be no toll tax and motor vehicle tax should be reduced to Rs.1.50 from the existing Rs.2.25.’

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