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DateLine Sunday, 22 April 2007

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Private bus operators to hike fares by mid June

The Private Bus Operators Association (PBOA) said there will be a substantial increase in bus fares by mid June.

According to the national policy for revision of bus fares, the PBOA is, authorised to revise bus fares if there is a four percent increase in fuel prices against the previous increase.

PBOA Secretary, V. A. P. Liyanage told the Sunday Observerthat the Association did not revise bus fares following the recent diesel price hike since there wasn't a four percent increase but will certainly revise the rates in keeping with the "expenditure list".

The "expenditure list" includes fuel prices, crew costs, tyres and tubes, service and lubricants, air-condition, repairs, daily, monthly and annual overhead costs, depreciation costs, interest rates and provision for risks.

Liyanage said bus owners are the most affected when fuel prices are increased as they had to pay the operators and spend heavily on maintenance.

Expenditure on busses plying short distance has gone up by Rs. 7,500 and on long distance by Rs. 10,000, Commuters travelling on short-distance have dropped by 25 percent.

He said the Association will discuss the matter with the relevant authorities in the near future on the need to revise bus fares and would strike if there wasn't a favourable response.

"We will do our utmost to sort out the matter amicably instead of burdening commuters. Strikes are not intended to burden the commuters but a means to get our dues", he said.

The Secretary said the Association would have passed on the benefits of the dropping out prices in the world market to consumers if the Government had reduced the price per litre of diesel when fuel prices dropped last year in the world market.

The price per litre of diesel was increased from Rs. 58 to Rs.63 due to the escalating world crude oil prices. Analysts said that if tensions in the Middle East do not ease there would be a major impact on oil prices.

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