Costly Diesel Poised To Push Up Public Transport Charges in Maharashtra

The recent surge in diesel price is likely to spur a 10-15% rise in fare of state bus (ST) bus, including Mumbai-Pune AC Shivneris, said sources in the state transport department.

On Monday, the price of diesel in Mumbai touched an all-time high of Rs 70 per litre. “The fuel price rise will have a major impact on our operations,” said a senior MSRTC official. “We may be compelled to draft a proposal for a fare hike in the next few days and submit it to the ST board.” After getting a clearance from the board, the proposal will be sent to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority for final nod.

The MSRTC has a 19,000-strong fleet and ferries over 67 lakh passengers daily across Maharashtra, connecting major cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and Nagpur. MSRTC buses require more than 12 lakh litres of diesel for daily run. The last fare hike was in 2014 and was in the range of 13% to 15%, which included AC buses like Shivneri.

“Since the last three years, we have been facing increasing costs of bus maintenance, tyres and spare parts. There was also a rise in consumer price index of our workers…but the key parameter for a fare hike is fuel price rise,” explained the official.

If there is any hike, it will burden scores of commuters who depend on the buses for travel.

According to sources, the MSRTC incurred Rs 2 crore losses daily, and due to the diesel price hike since July, the losses mounted by an additional Rs 97 lakh. “To curtail the losses, fares have to be increased,” a source said.

On Tuesday, transporters have threatened to go on strike if diesel price is not reduced. Bal Malkit Singh of All India Motor Transport Congress said: “Around 65% of the operational costs for a transporter constitutes diesel cost. It is…slowing killing the tra-nsport industry.” The association has demanded a cut in excise duty and other taxes on fuel to bring down the rates and provide temporary relief to transporters. The excise duty is 22-23% and total taxes paid on fuel is around 43%, Singh said.

It is not just truck, tempo and trailer owners who are hit, but also tourist buses and school buses which ply on diesel, sources said.

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