LAHORE – Notwithstanding the miseries of the thousands of daily commuters, the uncontrolled urban transporters especially the owners of mini vans have raised the stop to stop fares by six rupees, from Rs10 to Rs16, at major routes of the city, TheNation has learnt.

By displaying the Lahore Transport Company’s stamped (LTC) fare-list at the side screen of their vans, the transporters are taking minimum 16 rupees from every passenger who even travels a distance of less than one kilometre. The maximum fare is set Rs35.

During the gas holidays (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday), the transporters already charged Rs15 from every passenger. However, now they have made it equal all week. More than 2,000 vans are plying in the city at different routes and due to the severe shortages of buses, these vans are considered the best and swift mode of transportation in Lahore. There are less than 200 buses against the estimated demand of 2,000 on 54 routes. Besides the vans and buses, about 100,000 chingchi and auto rickshaws are also traveling in the city to meet the demands of thousands of commuters mainly belong to poor and middle class. “They (van owners) are charging now Rs15 even if a passenger travels from Mozang Chungi to Shama Stop (about one third km distance at Wahdat Road),” said a commuter Muhammad Khalid standing at Mozang. He regretted that none of the transport authorities were there to stop the van owner from robbing the poor passengers. The Lahore Transport Company (LTC), which is responsible for streamlining the transport issues, is totally absent from the scene. The sources said that LTC was only focusing on generating revenue and for this the company has speeded up its campaign. The LTC’s inspectors mostly target the rickshaws for accumulating money in term of chalan for their company, they said. “They (LTC inspectors) are not focusing on transport management nor what the transporters are charging from passengers is their concern,” said sources. The LTC spokesman, however, said that the Company had not issued any fare-list to van owners. He added transporters were given a formula to set the fare according to the change in petroleum prices. The transporters, on the other hand, claimed that their business has totally been destroyed due regular increasing petrol prices and gas besides the three days gas holiday which is adding to their miseries. They are justifying the increase in fare and terming it according to the fuel prices.