Andhra Pradesh

When a trip home becomes too costly

Hari Krishna (30), a sales executive in Nellore, has with a heavy heart dropped his plans of celebrating Dasara with his family back in Hyderabad thanks to steep fares being charged by private bus operators during the festival season.

Bus operators are taking full advantage of the huge rush of passengers in view of the limited number of bus services offered by the APSRTC and TSRTC. The limited number of special trains are running at peak capacity with social distancing norms being thrown to the winds.

“The fare, especially on private buses, hit the roof even before the rush had peaked as the nine-day festival dedicated to Goddess Durga is the first major one to be celebrated after the second wave of COVID-19 subsided. Travelling to one’s home towns is sure to eat into the pockets of the public as the private bus operators are charging two to three times the usual bus fare. They are making hay while the sun shines,” lamented K. Srinivasa Rao, a commuter who booked a ticket from Nellore to Visakhapatnam.

“If a person books a ticket well in advance, one has to pay only ₹3,000 to go to Hyderabad from Nellore by an air-conditioned sleeper bus. Those who make their travel plans at the eleventh hour should be prepared to shell out ₹4,500 for a ticket as Vijaya Dasami approaches,” a travel agent named K. Chandrasekar said.

Many of the private operators had only a limited number of buses in good condition. Safety of passengers is also a big question mark in view of hectic workload on the staff. “I drive a ‘Dasara special’ service to Vijayawada and back to Nellore before starting off from Nellore to Hyderabad on the same night,” a driver of a private travels bus said on the condition of anonymity.

Many of the private bus operators woo passengers promising to take them up to Indirakeeladri foothills and bring them back after arranging for a quick darshan at the Durga temple. They have lined up more bus services especially on the auspicious ‘Moolanakshatram’ day.

APSRTC, which had withdrawn many of the bus services in view of COVID curbs, had not fully restored all its bus services to places like Bengaluru and Chennai due to a fall in demand. The occupancy ratio is only about 60% in Prakasam district. “We will operate 126 special bus services to Hyderabad from the district during the festival season. But only 10 bus services each will be run to Chennai and Bengaluru,” Deputy Chief Traffic Manager V.Vijay Kumar Reddy told The Hindu.

“If there is an increase in demand from passengers, we will operate more bus services then and there,” he added.

“This is nothing but looting the public. If the government itself hike bus fares during festival timem how can it question private players,” asks Confederation of Consumer Organisations in Andhra Pradesh M. Nageswara Rao.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 12:37:32 PM |

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