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Soon,shell out more for your BEST bus ride

Hoping to cut some of its losses,the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport undertaking on Monday decided to hike bus tariffs by Re 1 to Rs 6.

Hoping to cut some of its losses,the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST) undertaking on Monday decided to hike bus tariffs by Re 1 to Rs 6.

The proposal will be sent to the BMC and the Regional Transport Authority for approval and the new tariff would come into effect next month. “The cost of all commodities and services has increased but BEST bus fare has remained stable for a long time,” general manager O P Gupta said. “The BEST’s financial health is fragile and we are not being able to pay timely salaries to our 50,000-odd employees.”

Although the BEST had last increased the bus tariff marginally in 2010,the minimum fare of Rs 4 is being hiked after 11 years.

The minimum bus fare for two km will increase to Rs 5. Thereafter,there would be a cumulative hike for every fare slab. For instance,the existing fare of Rs 5 for three km would be increased to Rs 7,the fare for five km would be raised from Rs 7 to Rs 10 and so on. The price for monthly and quarterly bus passes will also rise.

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The bus fare hike will fetch the BEST Rs 150 crore per year. The BEST’s transport division posted a loss of Rs 510 crore for 2011-12. “With the power tariff hike and the bus fare hike,we should break even in two years hopefully,” Gupta said. The BEST has also decided to charge Re 1 as toll tax from commuters on routes where buses have to cross toll nakas. Until now,BEST was paying toll amounting to Rs 2.5 lakh per day from its dwindling coffers.

The decision met with stiff opposition in the BEST committee with five members from the Congress,two from MNS and the lone representative of Samajwadi Party staging a walkout.

Members of Shiv Sena,which was opposing the proposal before elections,said a hike was necessary and if not implemented,then the state should provide financial help. “BEST has paid Rs 600 crore to the state in 11 years as passenger tax,nutrition surcharge,toll tax and motor vehicles tax. BEST also has to shell out Rs 66 crore every year in sales tax or value added tax. In return,we get no help from state,” BJP’s Dilip Patel said.

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Congress members insisted that help should come from BMC first. “BEST has also been paying crores in property tax and octroi a year. If tax is not being waived in your own house,we can’t just blame the state,” Congress’ Ravi Raja said.

First published on: 03-04-2012 at 02:11:07 am
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