No hike in bus fares for now in Himachal Roadways – GS Bali

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Shimla: Finances of state transport services Himachal Roadways (HRTC) is in a ‘mess’ but the transport minister GS Bali has ruled out any hike in fares for now. Leaving the question open he said, “I will take a call later.”

“Himachal roadways is incurring huge losses and its finances are in a big mess,” said Bali. Being a bulk purchaser of diesel, he mentioned that the price hike was translating into a Rs 11 per liter loss for the public transporter.

In the absence of any significant rail network in the state and with over 95 percent of the public transport borne on road networks, much of it in hilly terrain, the minister said that it was an essential service from which the state will not back out in discharging its duty.

For a start we are looking at increasing the minimum fare charged so far. Presently it is Rs 2/- and after studying the whole issue we will take a call later, he said.

To introduce new buses and improve the services for passengers, the road corporation thorough a public private participation (PPP) mode intends to lease buses of all class, which include Volvo luxury coaches, semi-deluxe and mini-buses, stated the minister.

New bus stands would either be built in a PPP mode or on a build operate transfer (BOT) basis. Should there be no takers at any place an alternate method would be devised, said Bali.

He said that after having held a review meeting of the transport board and other officials, several irregularities committed in the last five years have come to notice. “An inquiry would be conducted and responsibility would be fixed,” he added.

GS Bali

When questioned about what the additional burden of providing free transport to government school students announced by the government would add to the losses of Himachal Roadways, the minister said, “it would cost crores.”

The scheme announced by chief minister Virbhadra Singh on Himachal Statehood Day (Jan 25, 2013) was part of the Congress manifesto and we are committed to implement it, he added.

Accumulated losses of Himachal Roadways had crossed Rs 653 cr in March 2011 and the figure is expected to cross Rs 700 crore by end of March 2012.

Editor-Reporter with Hill Post, Ravinder Makhaik as a journalist has for over two decades worked for India’s leading newspapers and television networks.

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