Commuters pay Re. 1 to Rs. 5 extra because of the additional distances the buses now cover

Here’s another shocker from the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC). After increasing bus ticket fares last November, MTC is looking at another revision in fares. This time, diversions due to ongoing Metro Rail work are to blame, an official says.

Irked commuters ask why they should pay an extra fare just because the MTC bus is taking a detour. “On Monday, I boarded bus route 21 from Royapettah. Earlier, I paid Rs. 5 to go up to High Court stop but today, the conductor asked me to shell out Rs. 6,” says T. Joseph, a resident of Nettukuppam near Ennore.

When Joseph and other passengers questioned the conductor, the latter merely shrugged saying it was the MTC administration’s decision. “Now the bus goes through Pattulos Road and then reaches Anna Salai. They say more diesel is used as a result of the roundabout route,” says Mr. Jospeh.

Similar was the experience of Chitkala Anand, who boarded bus route 54 from Simpson to reach Little Mount. “I was asked to pay Rs. 13. Earlier, the ticket charge for the same distance was Rs. 11. When other passengers questioned the conductor and driver, they said the hike was due to increase in the number of stages,” she said.

Commuters claim that ticket fares have increased from anywhere between Rs. 1 and Rs. 5 based on whether the bus is ordinary, deluxe or AC Volvo. “There is an increase of fare at every stage, which is typically 1.5 kilometres. Due to Metro Rail work, the number of stages has increased. For instance, now there are additional stages with halts at Express Avenue and Anand Theatre,” said an MTC official.

He said the fare would be high only one way. “Many commuters keep questioning the conductors and there have been some problems. The fare is based on kilometres, so if the bus travels an additional kilometre, the fare will also increase,” he said.

However passengers are not happy as they said they were not informed about the hike in advance. “Why should the commuters bear the brunt because MTC is taking a diverted route? Those who commute by buses are not rich people. Most are daily-wage workers for whom every penny matters,” said T. Ravikumar, president of All India Rail and Bus Passengers Welfare Association.

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