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West Bengal to run full fleet, private operators feel fuel pinch

West Bengal to run full fleet, private operators feel fuel pinch

West Bengal to run full fleet, private operators feel fuel pinch

Commuters heaved a sigh of relief after the chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced the resumption of public transport with restarting of intracity and intercity bus services. Commuters were burning big holes in their pockets in the absence of public transport to commute to their workplaces and back home.

The state transport undertakings (STUs) will run their full fleet to keep alive the lifelines of public transport. “If necessary, we will run extra buses to fulfil the travel demand,” said an officer of West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC), which serves the greater Kolkata.

However, private bus operators are skeptical of resuming operations. “The state government did not utter a word on fare revision. Last year, when the lockdown was lifted, the diesel price was hovering around Rs 70 a litre. Now, it is Rs 92 a litre. If fare is not revised, bus operators just cannot run buses. Like this time, the predecessor of the current transport minister also formed a committee but the committee yielded nothing,” said Joint Council of Bus Syndicates general secretary Tapan Banerjee.

Pradip Narayan Bose of West Bengal Bus & Minibus Owners’ Association refused to be cynical. “We hope that the government will be sympathetic to our concerns. We were worst hit by the never ending rises of diesel prices. We exhausted our all resources to run our buses with the old fare structure.”

But Banerjee was not convinced. “Even the short routes will incur a huge loss. Just to travel 6 km, a bus will burn diesel worth Rs 135. If you take into account other expenses, there is hardly any hope of recovery of cost of operation,” he said.

Commuters are also very happy for the resumption of normal movement of autos and taxis. Autos, which work as the backbone of last-mile connectivity of millions of commuters of the city, will be on the street after a gap of one and half months.

Most passengers feel that autos, taxis and state buses plying together will save their expenses. “We were burning big holes in our pockets with vehicles charging exorbitant costs. The resumption of public transport will give us a major relief,” said Satyaki Ganguly, a private insurance company employee.

Auto operators also felt relieved that they can operate autos as earlier. “Because of the restrictions, our earnings suddenly became zero,” said Madan Mohan Ghosh, an auto operator of Jadavpur-Garia route.

News source- Economic Times

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