The Villupuram Region of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) has collected Rs.7.35 crore as fare during the Deepavali festival.

The State government had announced a number of special and additional buses to cater to the needs of passengers travelling from one destination to another location ahead of the festival.

The fare collection is calculated from the previous day of the Deepavali and the net average is arrived at on the post-Deepavali day remittances made by the bus crew.

The collections from other regions are as follows: Tirunelveli: Rs 2.00 crore; Kumbakonam: Rs 4.62 crore; Salem: Rs 2.65 crore; Coimbatore: Rs 3.66 crore and Madurai has collected Rs 3.92 crore.

Madurai Region’s performance is being claimed as “productive” since the number of buses operated in Villupuram stood at 3,439 while Madurai has 2,525 buses, which are operated in Madurai, Virudhunagar and Dindigul districts.

Moreover, in other regions, more number of buses was operated in mofussil sections, while 50 per cent of the fleet in Madurai Region plied within the urban locations, the source said.

However, from the number of passengers handled or who had used the TNSTC buses during this Deepavali season, the regions had relatively handled lesser number of commuters than the previous years.

Last year, Deepavali fell on October 26, while the fare revision came into effect from November 18, 2011 across the State.

The net collection in Madurai Region during the previous year was Rs.2.91 crore, the source said and added that prior to the fare increase the number of commuters last year was higher than this year.

TNSTC officials attributed another reason for lesser crowd.

The opening of big chain stores discouraged the public to travel from their home towns to another city for Deepavali shopping.

For instance, a popular chain store opened in Theni district a couple of months back reflected in the fall of commuters in Madurai bound buses, a TNSTC depot manager said.

Another official said that the option to book tickets 120 days in advance in trains had come as a deterrent for public to opt for state-run buses, which were mostly used as a last resort.

The railways operated many special trains from different destinations covering long distances such as Nagercoil to Chennai Central, he added.

Instead of dealing with an iron hand on the omnibus operators, who indulged in violations by collecting exorbitant fares making use of the festival season, the Regional Transport Officials had preferred to issue charge memos to erring operators. These cases, over a period of time, would be closed with a compounding fee, the TNSTC official claimed.

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