Hike in bus fares likely; I-Cards for drivers, conductors made mandatory


 On the occasion of World Women’s Day, the Transport Department has doubled the number of seats reserved for women in all buses, including those of Kadamba Transport Corporation, from March 8. 
In a bid to make the public transport system more women-sensitive, male passengers and conductors who do not abide by this direction would be fined Rs 100 if a seat reserved for a woman was found to be occupied by a male. 
Identity cards (ID) for bus drivers and conductors have also been made mandatory along with directives to the bus owners to display their contact numbers, police and other helpline numbers at a prominent place in buses. 
No decision was taken at the Tuesday meeting on increasing fares, but an increase seems to be on the cards at the next meeting scheduled for March 14 or 15. The State Transport Authority (STA) has directed Transport Department to submit a proposal with details like the existing fare, last hiked fare and the rates prevailing in the neighbouring States. 
On the seats issue ~ taken at the STA meeting chaired by Principal Secretary (transport) RK Varma ~ a total of eight seats would be reserved for women in mini-buses (with 37 seater capacity) as against existing four. Also, two seats each would be reserved for senior citizens and differently-abled. 
In case of big buses, 12 seats would be reserved for women as against existing six. Similarly, three seats each would be reserved for senior citizens and differently-abled. 
Speaking to media persons, Director Transport Arun Dessai said the new rules would be applicable from the date of notification in the Gazette. 
“Government is planning to give this as a gift on Women’s Day and hence will in most likelihood be implemented from March 8,” he said. 
Dessai said that special enforcement teams would be formed to keep vigil on buses and to issue fines if the reserved seats are occupied by other passengers. 
Meanwhile, Dessai said that STA has also directed all bus conductors and drivers to display ID cards while on duty. “Thirty days would be given to implement the same,” he added. 
Several women organizations including the State Women’s Commission had petitioned Transport Department demanding doubling of seats for women along with other safety measures. 
On the fare hike issue, Dessai said after the hike in diesel prices, public transport operators such as auto rickshaw, tourist taxi and tourist motorcycle taxi operators have demanded hike in fares, which STA is likely to consider. “The Department would be approaching maximum number of associations to get their feed back on the demand,” he stated. Fares were last hiked in November 2011. [H]