Owners raise long-route bus faresShahin Akhter
Bangladesh Bus-Truck Owners’ Association decided to increase its long-route bus fares unilaterally using a price manipulation trick on the very day the government went for the latest fuel price hike and days ahead of January 20 set by the communication ministry for resetting the fares to adjust with the increased fuel costs.
The government raised the price of diesel, among other petroleum products, from Tk 61 per litre to Tk 68 on January 4.
At a meeting on the same day the BBTOA came up with a new chart of fares applicable for both 40-seat and 52-seat buses, resulting in a significant rise in the fares of the second category of buses.
The fares of 52-seat buses usually are much lower than that of the 40-seat ones.
The government, as a rule, sets the fare rate per kilometre for 52-seat buses only and owners of 40-seat coaches increase the rate later by permission of the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, said BRTA engineering department director M Saiful Hoque.
When asked, BBTOA leaders tried to rationalise the move by pointing out a clause in the association’s resolution which says when the government resets the long-route bus fares the BBTOA will revise its fare chart accordingly.
During a visit to the bus terminals in the capital on Friday, New Age found that most of the long-route bus companies at Gabtoli terminal were displaying only the BBTOA-set fare chart at their counters and charging passengers accordingly.
A copy of the resolution of a BBTOA meeting on January 4 attached to the new fare chart reads that the association took the decision to revise bus fares on all long routes with effect from January 5.
It also categorically prohibits selling bus tickets at a rate lower than that on the chart.
Hanif Paribahan was found charging Tk 380 per head for a journey between Dhaka and Bogra, which earlier had been Tk 354 for 40-seat coaches and Tk 283 for 52-seat ones.
Its per head fare for a journey by 52-seat buses from Dhaka to Naogaon has been increased from Tk 353 to Tk 450, Barisal from Tk 400 to Tk 450, Dinajpur from Tk 470 to Tk 600, Gaibandha from Tk 385 to Tk 450, Rangpur from Tk 441 to Tk 550, Natore from Tk 299 to Tk 370, Rajshahi from Tk 358 to Tk 450, and Chapainawabganj from Tk 420 to Tk 520.
Like Hanif Paribahan, Shyamoli Paribahan was found charging a per head fare of Tk 400 for a Dhaka-Pabna trip by 51-seat buses instead of Tk 319 charged previously and Tk 580 for Dhaka-Kurigram instead of Tk 502.
Passengers like Mohammad Zaman, Habib and Akash said it was a common phenomenon for owners of buses to raise fares without the government’s approval.
‘Transport owners always charge us at their own sweet will,’ said a Bogra-bound passenger, Habib.
Earlier on December 31, 2011, the government increased the rate of long-route bus fares from Tk 1.2 per kilometre to Tk 1.35 following a diesel price rise from Tk 56 to Tk 61 a litre.
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