Transport fares have for long been a contentious issue with the transporters and passengers at loggerheads about what should be the fair amount. The transporters, for their part, raise much hue and cry that what they are charging is not sufficient for them to run their enterprise. Now that the price of petroleum products has plummeted in the international market after having risen to a record high, it is logical to expect that there should be some reduction in the transport fares. When the price of fuel soared the fares had been hiked, much to the chagrin of the passengers who found it difficult to afford the inflated charges. The transporters argued that this was only to be expected if they were to stay in business. These conflicting interests had led to resentment necessitating numerous negotiations between the transporters, consumers’ bodies and the government to reach a consensus on the fares. However, in the absence of adequate study, the fares had often been set whimsically bowing to the pressures of the service providers. Even with the decline in the price of fuel, the transporters said that the price of lubricants and the depreciation of their vehicles over time were not taken into account, and that they were not getting enough even with the increase in the fares.
A scientific transport fare carried out by experts was mooted to resolve the imbroglio which had threatened to cripple the transport industry. Now with the announcement by the government of a new ‘scientific fare’ based on distance determined on the newly developed scientific method in which the contribution of the fuel in vehicle operation is considered to be 35 per cent only, one would expect that this would appease the transporters and also the passengers. This shows that other factors, besides the price of fuel, have been taken into consideration to decide the fares. In other words, the price of fuel alone accounts for only about a third of the various determinants while determining the fares. Therefore, fluctuation in the price of fuel has a limited, although an important role, on deciding the fares. The study should be sustained and, with every change in the price of fuel, the fares have to be adjusted with immediate effect as far as possible for the prices have shown to have the habit of changing dramatically, as seen in the past year or so.
The new rates have been set for various distances on the various routes effective from yesterday. Only time will show if these are appropriate and reasonable. Now comes the part of implementing the fares. Going by past experience it is found that the transporters often charge the old exorbitant fares even when the new ones are supposed to be enforced. This is one of the major grudges of the passengers who feel that the authorities are not serious about punishing the offenders when the fares are not adhered to. Under the circumstances, the disgruntled passengers have no other option than to comply with the demands of the transporters. The transporters, for their part, should not only operate with the profit motive, but also see to it that their services are improved, where much can be done considering how things are now.