“Why slashing bus fares is key to increasing BMTC’s ridership”

Though bus priority lanes have been introduced in Bengaluru, BMTC's extremely high fares discourage many from using buses. In fact, commuting by two-wheelers is far cheaper in the city.

It has been a season of ideas – some new, some old – for decongesting Bengaluru roads. The #Cycletowork Fridays was the most recent one. Of course the most talked about idea was the bus priority lane announced by the government in an effort to popularise public transport. The fulcrum here was time-saving for road users – we give you dedicated space so you are not stuck in traffic for hours or have to deal with driving stress.

However there is another important element that needs to be worked on, to make public transport more attractive – cost.

BMTC fares is among the highest in Indian cities

As things stand, the cost of a bus ticket in Bengaluru is among the highest in the country.

Bus Operators   Fare for travelling 5 kms
Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Services (AMTS) Rs 8
Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking
Rs 14
Calcutta State Transport Corporation (CSTC) Rs 8
Chandigarh Transport Corporation (CTC) Rs 5
Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) Rs 10
Metro Chennai Transport Corporation (MCTC) Rs 8
Pune Mahangar Parivahan Mahamandal (PMPML) Rs 10
Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) Rs 15

Source: BBPV (Bengaluru Bus Prayanikara Vedike)

In 2018, the then-Minister for Transport, D C Thammanna, had proposed an 18 percent hike in the fares of both BMTC and KSTRC, citing increased price of diesel. That would have added approximately another rupee to every kilometer. That doesn’t sound too much for some of us who can afford that little extra.

The Volvo monthly bus pass fare of Rs 2363 doesn’t pinch our pocket much considering what we’d spend on diesel/petrol plus the time we’d spend driving. But for those who struggle to afford the Rs 1050 monthly pass for ordinary buses because it is a substantial part of their salary, the fare hike would be a disaster.

As it stands, that proposal for price hike is still pending with the government.

Competitive costing is a key criteria in popularising public transport around the world. Cities like Paris have even looked at making public transport free, to combat private transport. On the other hand, cities like London, whose public transport has been voted the best in the world consistently, have high fares.

Shashi Verma, Chief Technology Officer for Transport For London (TFL), who was visiting Bengaluru to discuss the city’s mobility options with the government, explained that the trick was to make public transport the cheapest of all mobility options. TFL is the government body responsible for all transport in London – buses, tubes, waterways, regulating taxis and private vehicles etc.

Verma says, “Yes our [public transport] fares are high. But if you compare it to the other options like private transport, we are a lot more easy on the wallet, especially for the working class people and even those who are doing well for themselves. Nobody wants to pay 60 pounds of congestion charge (charge for using private vehicles in high-density roads) everyday if they can help it.”

So how does the cost of private transport compare with that of BMTC fares? Let’s look at two-wheeler riders since they form the bulk of our private road users.

Two-wheelers far cheaper than BMTC

As the table above shows, the cost of travelling in Metro is closer to the cost of BMTC, but Metro has the advantage of time savings and a proper schedule.

In contrast, two-wheelers are far cheaper than BMTC. They are also more easy to navigate in traffic. To get people off two-wheelers and onto buses would be near impossible – it offers the advantage of neither a more cost-effective travel option nor a timely and reliable one.

One of the main reasons BMTC fares are higher than bus fares in other cities is that BMTC has a revenue-generating model. Vinay Sreenivas of BBPV says “About 90 percent of BMTC’s revenue is generated by ticket sales. The state government needs to step in and subsidise BMTC. We had even given them a detailed plan on alternate sources of revenue for this.”

Of course there are those who wish to argue that public transport should be a service and not have a revenue-generating model. I will refrain from expanding on that in this article.

But all the numbers at our disposal show that, clearly public transport- buses especially – are fighting an uphill battle. Add to it the chaos of an unreliable time schedule, and the option becomes less and less attractive. So while we push for public transport, it is imperative that the price is also looked at.


  1. Shankar Anantharaman says:

    First of all fares are high .manier times the conductor doesn’t give ticket – instead of 5 ₹ ticket he returns 2 ₹ but we have to travel without ticket
    Secondly the monthly pass is only issued beginning of the month why cannot they issue passes like Mumbai Suburban train passes whichever day it’s issued it’s valid for 30 calendar days or 90 days likewise Bmtc should start

  2. M Reddy says:

    I think Time for Govt to reduce prices to economical like Rs. 5 – 15/- for bus travels or end-to-end ticket to minimise vehicles on Road.

    Now, Rs. 60 for parking car at Metro, Rs. 50 for Travel both sides plus time waste both ends of the journey.
    My car journey costs Rs. 140/- for both (to & from) and prefer to travel in that than public transport.

    Logic, right ? (unless I think on pollution view)

  3. Ritam says:

    i feel the routing should be done so as to pick up the passengers from the metro stations , especially last metro stations like yelachenahalli, mysore road, nagasandra, baiyappanahali and also from railway station halts like kr puram, hoodi , belandur halt to the office areas, people can better utilise the service and the fare should be in multiple of 5rs because in the name of stages , just after 1km 2 rs is increased so stage system should be reformed and rate revision should be done at 5 km , 10km and 15 km and rates can also be increased at 5rs per stage(5Km distance) which will not lead to the money change problem

  4. Hemanth says:

    Let government release some fund for bmtc every year, so as to reduce fares or of free, which in long term would benifit in reducing congestion and pollution on roads.
    Bmtc should be a non profiting public transport which is made for people, not a profitting organisation.
    Instead of running every bus from majestic or K R market, they should start from every metro station to the nearby places, which will again decongest in the CBD because of bus.
    Cities in germany, italy and other european countries have implemented the same way, and is benifitted.

  5. Oliver says:

    I will add my experience as an immigrant worker in Bengaluru and what I experience in my daily day to day life.
    1. State should not block suburban railways or other form of transports to force sell BMTC rather all of them should be complementing each other.
    2. Roads in Bengaluru are narrow and not commensurate to the traffic. First alternate roads/routes should be built before dedicated bus lanes are created.
    3. City planners have 3 primary IT SEZs viz. ITPL, Manyata, Bellandur IT corridor. Morning all traffic converge to these points and evening all traffic diverge creating chaos. These SEZs should be more distributed with local residential communities like E-City. BBMP should be localized to central Bengaluru area and companies should maintain these local tech communities.
    3. BMTC runs Volvo buses in IT corridors with charges equal to the pool cabs and higher than QuickRide. However, this fails as IT folks prefer cabs with end to end connectivity than the BMTC p2p with a cattle class experience.
    4. BMTC should introspect on the revenue generation model and not reward individual buses with more revenue. This causes BMTC staff to block bus stops and causing huge jams.
    5. Police men do not fine BMTC buses and let these erroneous drivers block roads but will certainly challan private vehicles. This should be corrected and law should be same for all.

  6. sudeep says:

    Buses are already very crowded, increasing and decreasing fare may not be right solution.

    The technology may be a key here, BMTC should consider smaller EV transport (10 to 20 seats) with prepaid card system with shorter cyclic routes from point to point. One person can operate the vehicle and conductors role could be only on stations to assist the passengers with routes, manage queues, handle queries on tech, this will help to reduce the congestion in the road, increased velocity of passenger transit, easier payments modes and less hassle for passengers

  7. Poda De says:

    BMTC must reduce the fares by 25% including the daily / monthly Passes and can still make definite profits provided pilferage by conductors is zeroed and the trips are scheduled more frequent. Attitude of BMYC crew and supporting staff must change to be in pleasant service of commuters and this alone will increase tremendously the occupancy-rate yielding better cash-flow.

  8. Subash BV says:

    The problems are because it’s a public sector. Too much of overheads and curroption. The government was raising the fares as it pleases. Any way doing buissiness is not government’s business. But we have to live with it no choice. put the nation first.

  9. Saikiran says:

    The reason why people in cities of Chennai and Hyderabad use more public transportation is because it is affordable. If Govt wants to reduce Blr traffic, they should attract the passengers with reasonable and affordable prices. Govt can bear if any loss to BMTC by providing subsidy in diesel , taxes etc….

  10. Sanjeev T says:

    Please review bus routes.. city has grown. we also need to have timing fixed from start point every 10 minutes..will help.

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