Transporters have increased the fares for travel within Lahore and to other towns and cities in the Punjab following the raise in petroleum prices on Saturday.
The All Pakistan Transport Owners Federation (APTOF) has decided to raise fares for various inter-city routes by between 7 per cent and 15 per cent, said APTOF Chairman Azam Khan Niazi.
The Lahore Transport Company (LTC), which is responsible for controlling public transport in the city, will meet on Monday to decide whether to raise bus fares within Lahore. Meanwhile, the many vans and coaches operating on 47 routes in the city have increased their charges without LTC permission.
There are 53 bus routes in Lahore of which 28 are operational. Seven companies run buses on these routes and their fares are set by the LTC. The LTC fares are meant to be applicable to all local transporters, but the vans and coaches usually set their own rates.
LTC Deputy General Manager (Operations) Tanveer Siddiqui said that the company would announce new fares after a meeting on Monday. He said that the company had started a “crackdown” on coaches and vans that had increased their fares without LTC permission on Saturday. He said that the company had devised a strategy to bring “low-occupancy vehicles” – vans and coaches – to heel so that they followed the LTC rates.
APTOF General Secretary Arshad Khan Niazi said that the federation of owners had no choice but to raise fares following the hefty increase in petroleum prices. He said that the government was not subsidising the transporters.
“For reasons best know to them, the government wants to bring in foreign transporters and dissuade local transporters,” Niazi said.
He said that the government had not consulted local transporters on issues such as route permits, toll taxes and challan rates. “We are the main stakeholders but we’ve not been consulted,” he said.
Zulfiqar Sheikh, a Lahori who works at a cotton factory in Faisalabad, said that he had a salary of Rs18,000 per month and he spent Rs4,000 a month on travelling to Lahore. “I used to go home four times a month but now I will go twice a month because I can’t afford it,” he said.
He said that the recent fuel price rise would result in inflation across the board, which would hurt ordinary working class citizens such as himself. He said labourers should be given travel subsidies, like students.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 2nd, 2012.