Cashing in on the demand, private bus operators make a killing by charging exorbitant fares
HYDERABAD: The ongoing truckers’ strike has come as a blessing in disguise for private operators in the twin cities to fleece people returning to their homes this Sankranti holiday season by charging exorbitant fares.
The rush for private services has increased, as the railways and bus stations have been literally choked.
Private travel agencies operate nearly 400 buses to different destinations everyday from the city. Usually, the fare for Vijayawada from Hyderabad in a private bus would be around Rs. 300 but during this season, many operators are charging around Rs. 800 per head. Similar is the case with Bangalore-bound buses, the fare that used to be around Rs. 500 has now been hiked to Rs. 1,200.
Owing to the truckers strike and subsequent shortage of diesel in twin cities till Friday, majority of these buses remained off the road. Above all, in anticipation of the fuel shortage continuing for a few more days, operators purchased diesel in bulk quantities in black market. The abnormal charges were levied only to cover the operational costs, defended Prakasa Rao of Subramanya Travels at Erragadda.
“Every festive season, private operators collect higher fares from passengers. It is high time for the Transport Department to check this fleecing,” fumed Panduranga Murthy, a commuter.
Meanwhile, Secunderabad railway station, Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (MGBS), Jubilee Bus Station and other bus stations witnessed heavy passenger rush, all eager to reach their hometowns. The stations were choked and buses and trains, including the special ones were running packed.
69 special trains
Generally, one lakh passengers travel to different destinations from Secunderabad railway station everyday and the number reached nearly 1.30 lakh on Saturday. The South Central Railway is operating 69 special trains to meet the extra rush during Sankranti festival and majority of the berths in these trains were reserved well in advance by the passengers as tickets were issued with long waiting lists.
The situation is no different at MGBS.
Usually one lakh passengers depart daily to different places in 2,800-odd buses from the station.
But with APSRTC operating over 800 special buses on Sunday, the station was choked.
So much so, it took hours for buses to arrive on the platforms from the entrance and vice-versa owing to heavy rush and bus traffic congestion, said an RTC official.