Govt raises fares to keep wheels on road

The Mamata Banerjee government on Wednesday announced an increase in the fares of buses, minibuses and taxis but the hike failed to satisfy most transporters who chose to keep their options open.

The decision ' taken in view of the recent rise in diesel price that made the fuel dearer by Rs 6.02 a litre in Calcutta ' was announced by commerce and industries minister Partha Chatterjee, the chairman of the group of ministers on transport.

"The Centre's anti-people measures have resulted in a substantial price rise. This decision (fare hike) had to be taken to keep bus, minibus and taxi services normal. The new fares will be effective from Thursday," said Chatterjee.

The taxi fare has gone up by around 20 per cent, while that for buses and minibuses is up by around 25 and 14-20 per cent (see chart).

The taxi fare has to be calculated by multiplying the meter reading by 2.4 and adding Re 1. Those travelling with luggage will have to pay an additional charge of Rs 4 a package if it weighs more than 20kg or is larger than 75x60cm.

"The arithmetic becomes complicated. The luggage charge will add to the confusion as drivers or commuters cannot carry rulers or weighing scales," said Bimal Guha, the president of the Bengal Taxi Association.