Decision on student bus pass scheme likely today

On a day marked with protests by students groups, Transport Minister D.C. Thammanna said a decision on distributing bus passes free of cost to students is likely be taken by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Mr. Thammanna said he supported the scheme, which would see the distribution of nearly 4 lakh bus passes to students in the State.

“I have agreed to the scheme, and the CM may announce his decision on Thursday,” he said.

While the decision was the first announced during the 2018 budget of the previous Siddaramaiah-led government, it is yet to be implemented.

The delay in implementation has seen numerous groups come out in protest.

“After years of struggle, the previous State government announced free bus passes to all students. But now, there is no talk of it in the budget of the new government. This is nothing but sheer betrayal by the government,” said Ajay Kamat, District Secretary, All India Democratic Student’s Organisation (AIDSO).

Incidentally, BMTC will start distribution of smart cards, instead of paper cards, to students. Over 20,000 of these smart cards have been printed, and will be given to schools, colleges or delivered home to those who have applied, said V. Ponnuraj, Managing Director, BMTC. So far, just 55,000 out of the estimated 4 lakh pass-holders have applied.

The others can, however, avail concessional rates by producing a copy of their admission receipt and school/college ID.

The smart cards, which can be electronically registered on ticketing machines, are a way for the BMTC to account for the usage of passes. Currently, there are over 8 lakh users of at least 70 different types of passes, and the BMTC has no way to track their usage.

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