Unlocking the lockdown in Kolkata: Private buses out on the streets with hiked fare

Private buses and minibuses were out on the streets of Kolkata on Thursday, the fourth day the lockdown was lifted outside containment zones across the country.

While this brought a sigh of relief for commuters, the number of buses plying was still inadequate compared to the demand. Buses run by the state government have been plying even during the lockdown, but their number has been increased gradually.

From June 1 – when the lockdown was lifted outside containment zones – passengers were having a tough time reaching their workplace in the absence of adequate buses, as only state buses were running during this time. After a meeting between transport operators and state government authorities on Wednesday, it was decided that buses would ply with only the seats occupied and no one would be allowed to stand. The bus operators agreed to this condition of the government with the condition that the fare would be increased. For private buses and minibuses, the minimum fare has been fixed at Rs 10 and the maximum fare for buses if Rs 20 and for minibuses it is Rs 25.

Officially, the hiked fare is to be charged from June 8 or 9 when the final chart with new fares is printed by bus operators after clearance from the state government. However, on Thursday too, the hiked fare was charged by the buses, though this did not have an official sanction.

But commuters did not seem to mind as they were happy that buses were available to reach them to their destination without going through the difficulty of waiting in queues for hours in the heat.

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