Protests against the hike in bus fares in Tamil Nadu continued across the state for the fourth day Tuesday as the main opposition DMK petitioned the Chief Minister K Palaniswami, seeking its rollback. College students held protests in different parts, including Chennai, Karur, Coimbatore, Thanjavur and Tiruchirappalli, with several of them boycotting classes opposing the government move, police said.
After a hiatus of six years, the state government had on January 19 hiked ticket fares of buses operated by state run transport corporations and private entities by about 20 to 54.54 per cent. Commuters continued to throng railway stations as several felt travel by trains “was cheaper” compared to bus fares. Public also demanded that more trains be operated on various shorter distance routes connecting local junctions.
DMK Working President and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly M K Stalin wrote to the Chief Minister demanding rollback of the fare hike, saying it affected all sections of the society. He cited as “mere excuse” the government’s defence that the increase was effected due to a host of factors including rise in fuel price, maintenance cost, salaries and pension and purchase of new buses to increase efficiency.
Stalin suggested measures such as streamlining the administration of transport corporations, operating buses on profitable routes and using advertisement for revenue generation to make them economically viable. Instead of using such ‘practical’ measures, hiking fares would not ensure stability of transport corporations, he added.
The fare hike had severely impacted various sections of the society including office-goers and would further affect people already facing general price rise, the DMK leader said. Stalin had earlier condemned the hike and accused the Palaniswami-led government of being “sadist”.
The government has hiked fare across categories such as moffusil, city, ordinary, express, ultra deluxe, Volvo and air conditioned buses. The hike which came into effect from January 20 has triggered protests from day one with people hitting the streets at many places besides venting their anger on social media platforms against the “steep revision”.
Termed as ‘inevitable’ by the government, the increase came in the wake of the recent eight-day strike by a section of transport employees unions in the state over wage revision. The agitation had severely affected public sector transport.