Reeling under losses and rising diesel prices, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) on Monday hiked fares across all its services, except night express buses, with ticket prices going up by minimum Rs 5 and travel in AC 'Shivneri' buses between Mumbai's Dadar and Swargate in Pune now costing Rs 525 instead of Rs 450.
The new fares were effective from Monday midnight said the corporation as it also hiked dearness allowance (DA) of its employees to 17 per cent from the existing 12 per cent ahead of Diwali.
The fares across all categories of services, except night express buses, will go up by a minimum Rs 5, according to an MSRTC press release.
However, ticket rates of night express buses have been reduced by Rs 5 to Rs 10, the release said.
The MSRTC, which has been severely hit due to curtailed operations amid the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns, is expected to earn an additional Rs 50 crore from this move, Shekhar Channe, vice-chairman and managing director of the state-run transport undertaking, told PTI.
"We have decided to hike fares by around 17.17 per cent mainly due to rise in diesel prices. The revised fares will be effective from (Monday) midnight. MSRTC is revising its bus fare after a gap of three years," he said.
A senior official said the State Transport Authority approved MSRTC's fare hike in a meeting held earlier in the day.
The MSRTC has a staff strength of around 95,000 employees and a fleet of 16,000 buses.
"Ticket prices of night express buses are 18 per cent higher than rates of ordinary buses running during the day. This additional rate has been cancelled from tomorrow and ticket rates for day and night ordinary buses will remain the same," said the MSRTC release.
As per the MSRTC, ordinary buses, which depart between 7 pm and 5 am and reach their destinations after a six-hour journey are called 'Night Express' (Ratrani) buses.
Passengers will have to shell out Rs 525 instead of Rs 450 for journey between Dadar in Mumbai and Swargate in Pune by air-conditioned 'Shivneri' buses after midnight of October 25, an official said.
The official said passengers will have to pay Rs 860 instead of Rs 740 for Mumbai-Aurangabad journey and Rs 730 instead of Rs 625 for Mumbai-Vijaydurg (Ratnagiri district) journey on ordinary buses.
According to the official, for tourist-friendly services like 'Mahabaleshwar Darshan' and 'Pratapgarh Darshan', passengers will have to pay Rs 100 instead of Rs 60 and Rs 110 inside of Rs 70.
On June 15, 2018, the MSRTC had raised its fares by 18 per cent.
"Fuel prices have skyrocketed in the last three years. Although the (fuel) rates were increasing day-by-day, the MSRTC had kept the ticket rates stable," the corporation said, claiming it implemented the fare hike due to "helplessness".
In order to reduce the burden on MSRTC coffers due to a sharp rise in fuel prices and an increase in rates of tyres and spare parts of vehicles, the state-owned corporation has decided to hike fares, according to the release.
In a separate press release, the corporation announced a hike in DA of its employees to 17 per cent from the existing 12 per cent. It also said the October salary of employees will be paid before the Diwali festival on November 1 instead of the scheduled 7th day of each month.
The cash-strapped corporation also announced "Diwali Bhet" (bonus) of Rs 2,500 and Rs 5,000 to its employees and officers, respectively.
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