Though permitted to run only contract trips, operators are minting money by plying buses on different routes
Going by Transport Department rules, no individual passenger can purchase a ticket either offline or online for travelling to different destinations in a private bus.
Private buses can ferry passengers only when tickets are booked in bulk under a contract for marriages, school and college tours etc.
Blatantly violating these rules, private bus operators have been running buses at will right under the nose of the Transport Department all these years.
However, the department has now started cracking the whip against private buses like never before. Ever since the special drive was launched last week, authorities have seized nearly 800 private buses across the State, including 300 in Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts for violating route permits and other violations such as failing to maintain passenger information list, transportation of commercial goods etc.
This apart, travel operators’ offices in Lakdikapul, S.R.Nagar and Ameerpet are being raided and computers and bill books are being seized for issuing tickets to individual passengers both offline and online.
Private buses are issued contract carriage permits and have to ferry passengers only when a single party makes bulk booking for attending marriages, school and college industrial tours, corporate tours etc.
They cannot issue tickets to individual passengers either offline or online, explains Joint Transport Commissioner B. Venkateswarlu.
But violating the rules, private bus operators have been issuing tickets and providing multiple boarding points to passengers, similar to RTC buses.
Only RTC buses are permitted to operate as stage carriers and ferry passengers from multiple boarding points, he emphasises.
This is not the first time that private buses are being seized.
Every year, several buses are seized and released after paying penalty ranging from Rs. 5,000 to Rs.10,000 in the courts.
But post the Volvo bus mishap at Palem in Mahabubnagar, efforts are on to make the private bus operators to fall in line, he adds.
“Apart from seizing the buses, since last week the department is also suspending the permits issued to operators. Permits of about 30 buses were suspended across the State till date for violation of rules.
Notices are being issued to websites which have tied up with operators and facilitate online booking,” says Mr. Venkateswarlu.
There are about 1,600 private buses across the State. Every year, bus operators obtain different permits, including single district permit, two districts and all-India permit for operating their buses.
This provides nearly Rs.70 crore revenue for the department.
Patronage for private buses is increasing every year due to rising demand for more services. Everyday about 800 buses are operated from Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy to coastal districts, Shirdi, Vijayawada, Bangalore, Chennai and other places.
Passengers opt for private buses as RTC buses and trains are failing to meet the demand though special services are announced during festivals and other occasions.