THERE has been a substantial reduction in the price of petrol and diesel, which has come as a breath of fresh air for the general public, but transport fares have not seen any dip at all, as buses, coaches, including those running on intercity routes, continue to charge the exorbitant prices that had been hiked when the fuel prices had gone up.

For once, the government has provided the much-needed relief to the common man in the shape of price reduction, but the benefit had remained limited to those who own motorcycles or cars. Those who depend on public transport, however, have continued to dish out the same fares. This is one of the reasons we see, as is shown in the accompanying image, seriously ‘overloaded’ motorcycles on the roads. People have no choice because the entire benefit of price reduction is being taken away by the transporters.

Transporters always raise fares rather eagerly whenever there is an increase in fuel prices. They do not wait for official announcements; a mere word of mouth is enough for them to start overcharging the passengers. However, they are slow, almost reluctant, in reducing the fares when fuel prices drop, often citing various excuses. Over the last month, within which there have been two price reductions, the transporters have simply shrugged off the matter altogether.

Unfortunately, this reluctance to lower fares highlights a persistent obstacle in the way of ensuring that the benefits of reduced fuel prices are passed on to the public. The true benefit will only be realised when the government takes steps in this regard.

The government must issue revised fare schedules for public transport, and ensure strict enforcement. Just as increases in fuel prices lead to higher transportation costs and, consequently, overall infla- tion, the benefits of price reduction should also be reflected in terms of reduced transportation costs and fares.

Gulab Umid
Turbat

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2024

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