LAHORE: The Punjab Transport Department has decided to increase the fares of inter-city bus service by 15 per cent and a summary in this regard has also been sent to the committee of provincial cabinet, Pakistan Today has learnt reliably.
Sources in the transport department said that during the lockdown, when local transport was allowed to operate, the fare of inter-city non-AC buses was reduced by 15 per cent. They said that a summary has been sent by the department to the cabinet committee stating that petrol prices have gone up which should lead to a 15 per cent increase in fares for non-AC buses.
Sources believed that the decision to increase fares could not be taken until the summary was approved by the provincial cabinet.
It is pertinent to mention here that in May, there were dialogues between the transport department and public transporters regarding reduction of fares in which it was decided that fares would be reduced by 15 per cent. However, despite the reduction in fares, people seemed to be complaining that they were being overcharged by transporters.
Rasheed Kamboh, a passenger, told Pakistan Today about the difficulty he would face because of this decision since he travels daily from an area near Sheikhupura Road to Lahore. “My office is near the Civil Secretariat for which I have to come here daily from my home which is located near Sheikhupura. The situation is already difficult and due to the deteriorating situation, our salaries have been cut. The government had recently reduced petrol prices but there was no reduction in fares. Now the price of petrol has been increased and at the same time, the fare for buses is being increased, which is completely wrong with the poor man. The transport department should reconsider this decision because the poor man who does not already have a job can no longer bear the burden of the increase in fares,” he said.
Another passenger, Ajmal Shafiq said that the government was befooling the people. “First the transporters went on strike and then negotiations resulted in a 15 per cent reduction in fares but the provincial transport authority never checked whether the transporters were really receiving the reduced fare. Less than two months later, there is again a proposal of increase in fares. In fact, the government does not want to give any relief to the public. We are forced to travel in these buses. Neither SOPs [standard operating procedures] are followed here nor is social distancing taken care of. The condition of small wagons is even worse. There, people are sitting tight and coughing in the wagons.
The government is not fully focused on stopping the spread of the coronavirus. On the other hand, the life of the poor man is being made worse, with sometimes an increase in bus fares and sometimes an increase in electricity and gas bills. We do not want such a ‘Naya Pakistan’ and ‘tabdeeli’. The government should not increase the fares,” he said.
Secretary Provincial Transport Authority said that the decision to increase fares would be taken after the summary is approved.
Government of Punjab Spokesperson Musarat Jamshed Cheema told Pakistan Today that the matter was still under consideration, “We have not yet finalised how much to increase fares, but as petrol prices have risen, the concerns of transporters cannot be ignored. The government is doing its best to provide relief to the people. We will not accept the rates of transporters in any case but we will find a middle way which will make both the people and the transporters happy.”