The final decision on the bus fare revision is likely to be taken on Wednesday, December 29 following the submissions by the National Transport Commission (NTC).
Bus fares have to be increased in keeping with the hardships faced by the private bus owners due to the recent fuel price hike. Private bus associations have submitted proposals to the NTC and its Chairman Shashi Welgama has asked for four days to take these proposals into account and provide their opinion on the bus fare revision, State Minister of Vehicle Regulation, Bus Transport Services and Train Compartments and Motor Car Industry, Dilum Amunugama told the Sunday Observer yesterday.
State Minister Amunugama said that he had a discussion with representatives of private bus associations on Wednesday, December 22 regarding the increase in bus fares with the recent hike in fuel prices.
“However, we are not planning to put the entire burden of the fuel price hike on the passengers. We are having discussions with representatives of private bus associations to see whether we could give some sort of concessions to bus owners to increase the bus fares from a minimum level,” he said.
However, the Ministry will have to take steps to amend the bus fares after the NTC’s opinion on this is received, giving additional consideration of the passenger’s perspective and other reasonable factors presented by the private bus operators, he said.
He also said, “The fuel price hike and rapid increase in the price of spare parts due to the fluctuation of the dollar are the two key issues faced by the transport sector and this is what we are trying to address. I hope we will be able to reach some consensus within the next few days”.
The President of the Lanka Private Bus Owners Association, Gemunu Wijeratne said that 12 points are factored into compiling the price formula, adding that diesel is one such aspect, where one-third of the bus fares depends on.
Mr. Wijeratne also said that he will submit proposals to the NTC and said they assume that the bus fares would be revised by about 15 or 20 percent where the minimum fare would be Rs. 20.
The spokesperson of the All-Island United Private Bus Owners Association, Prasanna Vipalaguna said that to protect the industry, bus fares must be hiked by at least Rs. 25, adding that the Association will submit its own proposed amendments of fares within the next few days.
The General Secretary of the All Island Private Bus Owners Association, Anjana Priyanjan said that they are calling on the Government to provide a fuel subsidy at least for the public transport sector and not to increase bus fares.