Coimbatore

Excess fare collection by TNSTC continues in Coimbatore

Despite repeated representations, fleecing of bus passengers persists.

Despite repeated representations, fleecing of bus passengers persists.   | Photo Credit: S. Siva Saravanan

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‘No strict action has been taken by either the district administration or the RTOs’

Buses operated by Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC), particularly semi-low floor (SLF) buses, continue to be accused of charging excess fares despite multiple representations made to the authorities in the past.

Consumer activist K. Kathirmathiyon, a member of the District Road Safety Committee who has been raising this issue frequently for nearly a decade, alleged that many TNSTC buses arbitrarily fix ‘stages’ or stops without prior permission to increase the initial fare fixed. “Stages such as LIC (on Avinashi Road) or GH (Coimbatore Medical College Hospital on Trichy Road) are not approved,” he said.

Mr. Kathirmathiyon also alleged that there is no proper definition of deluxe buses as labelled in many SLF city buses, which charge more than the regular buses.

A letter from Transport Commissioner K. Samayamoorthy dated December 13, 2018 asked the District Collectors or Regional Transport Authorities (RTAs) to cancel the permits of buses charging excess fares and in turn, violating the Motor Vehicles Rules. “According to Rule 205 of the Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, the Transport Authority may suspend or cancel a permit in respect of all or any of the vehicles specified in the permit,” the letter noted. A similar letter was also addressed to the Regional Transport Officers (RTOs) across the State instructing them to take strict action against buses violating the rules.

However, Mr. Kathirmathiyon said that no strict action has been taken by either the district administration or the RTOs. Such buses that charge excess fares must be levied a heavy penalty by the transport officials, failure to pay which the buses should be impounded, he suggested.

Manoj Arun, a member of Makkal Pathai, a non-governmental organisation, claimed that one of the reasons behind the excess fares is that information such as route maps, fare charts, permit details and vehicle registration details were not available either inside the buses or at the TNSTC website, leading to a lack of transparency. Despite the introduction of new air suspension buses in 2019, many SLF buses procured under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme nearly a decade ago continue to charge excess fare, he said. “Despite the facilities differing in these two types of buses, they charge the same fare,” Mr. Arun alleged.

K. Nagarajan, committee member of Retired TNSTC Employees Welfare Association, said that complaints of excess fare, particularly in SLF buses, have been persisting for more than five years. “This has led to the decrease in patronage of TNSTC buses in Coimbatore,” he said. The buses in October last year is considered as SLF buses, Mr. Nagarajan noted.

When contacted, a TNSTC official denied the accusations of any excess fares, noting that the four types of fares charged earlier have been brought down to two types of fares at present: for SLF and regular buses. “The minimum fare in regular buses is ₹5 while in SLF buses it is ₹11,” the official said. Such regular buses will have a sticker on the front that reads “Regular Fare: Minimum ₹5,” the official said.

A total of 50 red-coloured buses were introduced last year to replace the SLF buses, which also charge a minimum fare of ₹11. Regarding the reason for the fare, the official cited the features that the new buses have such as air suspension and spacious interiors.

The TNSTC official added that the RTOs will levy a fine for buses collecting excess fares as per the fine amount fixed by the RTA. The RTOs are also cracking down on TNSTC buses plying without route maps and fare charts placed inside, according to the official.

An official from one of the Regional Transport Offices in the city said that a check report will be issued to buses found violating the Motor Vehicles Rules. The violations are classified into major and minor offences, wherein charging excess fare is classified as a minor offence that attracts a fine amount of up to ₹3,000, the official said. The RTOs will not renew the fitness certificates of buses if fare charts and route maps were found to be absent in buses, the transport official noted.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 10:32:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/excess-fare-collection-by-tnstc-continues/article30552482.ece

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