Tamil Nadu

Bus fares shoot up ahead of Deepavali

Going home for Deepavali festival from Chennai could cost a fortune.

There have been reports that cashing in on the festival rush, private bus operators have increased fares steeply and are fleecing passengers ignoring the warning from the authorities.

S. Paul Raj, a shopkeeper in Adambakkam, said, “We don’t have direct train to our native near Thisayanvilai in Tirunelveli district. For puja holidays, we were not able to get seat in State-run special buses because we planned our travel in the last minute. Hence, we had to pay ₹2,000 a person in a non-AC omnibus. It is daylight robbery. You can imagine the cost for a family of four and the earnings of three months were spent. For this Deepavali, they have already increased the price. We don’t know how we will go home to celebrate the festival.”

K. Kumaresan, a businessman at Tambaram and regular traveller to Tirunelveli, said, “On normal days, the operators call passengers for only ₹550 a seat to Tirunelveli in a non-AC bus. But during the festival season, they charge ₹2,000 without any qualms. This time they hiked the fares. A family will have to spend at least ₹10,000.”

There is a huge gap between fares of the State-run buses and private buses. For instance, the TNSTC charges ₹391 in non-AC and ₹663 in AC sleeper to Coimbatore on any day. Whereas the omnibuses charge ₹1,600 to ₹1,900 for AC sleeper two days ahead of Deepavali and their non-AC fare hovers around ₹1,080-₹1,400. The charge increased two-fold from off season. Similarly, the fares to Madurai, Thoothukudi and Nagercoil for AC sleeper touch ₹2,600.

Passengers say as the railway reservation closes, the private bus operators hike their fares.

K.P. Krishnadoss, a Madurai-based advocate, said: “The normal fare is around ₹800 for Madurai and now it has been hiked to ₹1,500 for non-AC buses. Some are operating omnibuses utilising the rush during the season and they charge ₹2,000-₹2,500 for Madurai and charge up to ₹4,000 for travel to Nagercoil.”

Some operators even block online booking giving an impression that all seats have been booked. This is a ploy to create artificial demand. Last-minute travellers have to buy tickets at astronomical rates.

In some towns, the operators engage middlemen to get passengers and there is no proper receipt issued.

Closer to festival days, some “fly by night” operators get the buses ready and operate them to make money.

In the run-up to the festival, transport authorities are not strict enough to curb the illegal business.

‘Poor occupancy’

However, M. Afzal, president of The Tamil Nadu Omni Bus Owners Association (TOBOA), said: “The occupancy still has not picked up since the lockdown was relaxed. There is only 40% to 60% occupancy. The ground reality is different. Out of 3,000 buses, only 400 are operated. That itself gives clear a indication of the state of the industry now. Fuel cost has gone up and are higher than the revenue.

“A few fly-by-night operators post ₹2,000 on online portal and later will take passengers for ₹400 since people may not book the tickets. Those buses are operated by brokers and drivers. We cannot stop them completely. Police fine such operators and sometimes, we stop them with the help of transport authorities. We determine fares after taking various factors into account and passengers can check the fare on www.toboa.in to decide the booking”, said Mr. Afzal.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 2:56:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/bus-fares-shoot-up-ahead-of-deepavali/article37182294.ece

Next Story