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Sunday, 4 July 2010

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No hike in bus fares, says NTC chief

The National Transport Commission (NTC) under no circumstances will permit an increase in the minimum bus fare from Rs. 6 to Rs. 7 at this stage, yielding to the demands of a handful of bus operators, National Transport Commission (NTC) Chairman Sashi Welgama told the Sunday Observer.

He said only a handful of bus operators were making this demand and the majority of them are not in favour of it.

The All-Island Bus Owners Association has threatened an all-island private bus strike demanding a Rs. 1 increase in the minimum bus fare. But the All Ceylon Private Bus Operators Association President Gemunu Wijeratne said that they are not making such a demand.

“To increase the minimum bus fare by Re 1 there should be at least 4 percent increase in the expenses of bus operators as evaluated by the NTC annually”, he said.

According to the evaluation by the NTC, only a slight increase of 0.5 percent was reported this year compared to the evaluation last year.

The NTC does an annual evaluation according to the agreement with private bus operators in 2002, considering 13 factors that may affect the operational costs of private buses. These 13 factors include the price of tyres, spare parts, fuel, the cost involved in purchasing buses, EPF and ETF payments and leasing instalments.

“Compared to the increase in their operational costs, the interest on leasing instalments has dropped drastically within the year under review”, he said. “Considering these factors the NTC cannot allow any increase in the minimum bus fare at this stage”, Welgama said.

He said since 2002, the bus fares have been increased 10 times and on three occasions there had been reductions in bus fares according to the agreement with bus operators.

“There is no necessity to increase even the minimum bus fare at this stage”, he said.

 

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