Private, public transport operators report heavy bookings; RTC running over 3,500 specials
The Andhra Pradesh capital is currently witnessing a huge rush of commuters at bus and railway stations. Unlike last year, when the general strike for Telangana had forced many people to cancel travel programmes during the Dasara festival season, this year private and public transport operators are already reporting heavy bookings.
There is heavy demand for a ticket in buses or trains. For instance, the waiting list of a second class ticket for Machilipatnam Express between Hyderabad and Vijayawada was 151 on Friday and 180 on Saturday. Apart from regular trains, South Central Railway (SCR) is operating 132 specials and bookings for a majority of these trains are full for this week, an SCR spokesperson said. RTC is operating over 3,500 special buses to various districts from the city. Tickets for the 1,150 regular buses are already sold out, said Executive Director, RTC Greater Hyderabad zone, A. Koteswara Rao. “We are operating about 500 buses to different destination from MGBS on Friday. The passenger rush is likely to continue on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday also,” he added.
With Dasara and Bakrid scheduled for next week, many people are heading to their home towns and the RTC is operating specials till October 26. Despite the recent fare hike in regular buses and an additional 50 p.c. extra charge for special buses, there is no indication of a slowdown in ticket sales. While the fare from Hyderabad to Vizag in a super luxury bus is Rs.600, those travelling in a special bus are paying Rs. 900 for the same distance.
In spite of charging additional fare for special buses, the RTC authorities claim that they do not earn profits.
“Extra fare is charged only to break even. We suffer 50 p.c. losses in regular buses since they record low occupancy ratio in the return direction,” an RTC official said. Private bus operators have also increased their fares, citing diesel price hike. “Operational costs have gone up and there is no option but to increase fares. The festive season helps us cover up for our losses suffered during the year,” says H.S.C Bose, honorary president of A.P. Private Bus Operators Association.