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LAHORE: The Punjab government has badly failed in controlling unbridled increase in fares by transporters in the province. Following the hike in petrol prices, the transporters have increased fares by 15 to 20 percent.

The fare from Lahore to Rawalpindi has been increased from Rs1,250 to Rs 1,350, Lahore to Murree from Rs1,600 to Rs1,700, Lahore to Peshawar from Rs1,500 to Rs1,600, Lahore to Faisalabad from Rs630 to Rs730, Lahore to Multan from Rs1,150 to Rs1,250, Lahore to Sialkot from Rs100 to Rs600, while those going from Lahore to Bahawalpur will now have to pay Rs1,350.

The fare from Lahore to Khanewal has been increased from Rs1000 to Rs1100, Lahore to Hyderabad from Rs3400 to Rs3600, Lahore to Karachi from Rs3,600 to Rs3,800, Lahore to Karachi Rs3,800 after increase of Rs200 while Lahore to Peshawar commute will cost passengers Rs1,600 after a hike of Rs100. The fare for people travelling to Multan from the provincial capital has been increased to Rs1,230.

Meanwhile, Ombudsman Punjab Maj Azam Suleman Khan (R) has taken notice of increase in public transport fares on a news item about the weak check and balance system relating to fares of AC and non-AC buses due to fluctuation in petroleum prices. This, often, results in the demand for extra fares by the transporters.

The transport department constituted a committee with minister transport as its convener along with six departmental secretaries as members to review and decide public transport fares through a devised system.

The Ombudsman asked the Secretary Punjab Transport Authority (PTA) to convene the said meeting at the earliest and his office to be informed about the subsequent development. It was further directed to submit a detailed report to devise a pattern of public transport fares while holding fares comparison with other provinces. Similarly, the law department should be approached for amendment in Section 45 of the Motor Vehicles Ordinance.

In this regard, a letter was also sent to Chief Secretary Punjab Kamran Ali Afzal on the direction of Punjab Ombudsman so that the transport department ensures a check over public transport fares through a mechanism.

The fares of AC and non-AC transport should be determined according to variations in petroleum prices so that transporters may not fleece the commuters and the citizens are facilitated. Similarly, the Punjab Food Authority should regularly check the quality of refreshments given in AC buses to ensure that food standards are maintained.

According to sources, the provincial cabinet had deregulated inter-city public transport buses in 2003 but did not regulate the AC-bus services for the last 17 years. Earlier, the provincial government used to determine the fares of AC inter-city buses. But, as a result of deregulation, transport owners started charging travellers at their will.

According to the sources, the cabinet had decided that public transport owners could increase fares on the basis of facilities provided to passengers. The sources said the public transport companies' owners recently increased fares more than 60 percent.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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