Andhra Pradesh

Revenue going downhill in Tirupati

The APSRTC’s operations have taken a severe beating in the Tirupati region with a reported ₹1 crore loss daily. Pilgrims visiting Tirumala and operations to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are the major sources of revenue here and COVID-19 restrictions have taken a toll on both.

Out of the fleet of 1,450 buses in Chittoor district, the corporation is at present running 800 and its revenue plummeted to below ₹80 lakh a day as against ₹2.20 crore prior to COVID-19 outbreak. The 50% seating restriction and the limit on the number of devotees allowed for darshan per day at Tirumala have contributed to the losses besides suspension of services to T.N. and scaled-down operations to Karnataka.

“Two hundred services regularly operated on various busy routes towards Tamil Nadu have been suspended and the number of buses plying to Karnataka has been brought down to 50 from 110,” RTC Regional Manager T. Changal Reddy tells The Hindu.

On the other hand, private transport operators of Tamil Nadu are exploiting the situation by hiking fares exorbitantly. They have broken the inter-State journey into two parts. Private buses from Tirupati carry T.N.-bound passengers up to the inter-State border point, Kasi Hotel, near Nagari. There passengers cross the border to enter Tamil Nadu and catch buses towards Chennai, Tiruttani and other destinations. This way, passengers are forced to pay twice leading to a 30% increase in the fare.

Passengers also complain that private operators have not been issuing any tickets to them. “They are collecting full fare even for children below 5 years. As limited bus services are available, we are left with no option but to suffer the exploitation,” laments Thyagarajan, a priest at Tiruttani.

COVID safety protocols are observed to some extent in APSRTC buses but seldom in private services, say passengers.

“In spite of best efforts we are finding it difficult to enforce compulsory wearing of face masks,” says a police officer at Nagari. “Many passengers use handkerchiefs and saris to cover their faces only on seeing the police,” he adds.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 1:11:23 AM |

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