Private omni bus operators of Tiruchi have doubled ticket fares ahead of the puja holidays.
Fares of omnibuses operated from Tiruchi to Coimbatore, Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli, Nagercoil and other parts of the State have been increased by ₹900 to ₹2,000 per ticket.
According to the travel agents, bus tickets have been selling fast for the past two days. “A large number of commuters had reserved tickets for Friday and Saturday, ahead of the holiday on October 4. The ticket demand will remain high till October 3,” said Rajaram of a travels company.
There is a huge gap between fares of the State-run buses and private buses. For instance, the TNSTC charges ₹447 in non-AC and ₹603 in AC sleeper to Chennai during the festive season. Whereas the omnibuses charge ₹1,200 to ₹2,000 for an AC sleeper and their non-AC fare hovers around ₹900 to ₹1,100. The charge increased two-fold from the off-season. Similarly, the fares from Chennai, Coimbatore, Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli and Nagercoil to Tiruchi for AC sleeper also touch ₹2,000.
Commuters claim that the private buses overcharge the passengers by taking advantage of the situation. “The normal fare is around ₹700 to Chennai and now it has been hiked to ₹1,200 for non-AC buses. Some are using the season's rush to operate omnibuses. A family will have to spend at least ₹5,000 on non-AC omnibuses,” said R. Ibrahim, a businessman near Singarathope and regular traveller to Chennai.
"The omnibus fares are anticipated to be further increased a couple of days before the festival. Therefore, the government must intervene and take action to regularise omnibus fares or to operate more government buses during festive seasons and holidays to put a full stop to this long-term issue,” said S. Parthiban, a resident of Cantonment.
“Fuel cost has gone up and is higher than the revenue, and the burden of taxes makes the situation worse. Since many passengers now prefer TNSTC buses, the demand has come down. As a result, we are forced to raise the fare,” said a representative of a private operator.