Private bus operators cash in on the long weekend

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Bangalore, October 11:   Cashing in on the long weekend ahead, private bus operators (all-India tourist buses) have hiked fares by 100 per cent for departures on Friday and Saturday, even as all buses and trains are already full for the weekend journeys.

At the same time, fares in State-run road transport corporations — KSRTC, NWKRTC and NEKRTC — are only seeing a 10 per cent hike as is the practice of the corporations during the peak travel season.

Comparisons between private and public transport costs make this clear. For instance, travel by a private Volvo multi-axle service to Belgaum would cost Rs. 1,750, whereas the same by KSRTC Volvo multi-axle bus would be Rs. 898. For Mangalore, the fares are Rs. 1,100 for private bus and Rs. 740 in KSRTC Volvo multi-axle bus. The fare is Rs. 2,500 and Rs. 840 to Panaji (Goa) in private and public transport bus, respectively.

Long holiday

Thanks to Navaratri festivities, there is a very long weekend ahead. The weekend holidays start from Saturday (second Saturday of the month), followed by Vijayadashami on Monday, Bakrid on Wednesday and Valmiki Jayanti on Friday. If a government employee avails himself of three days leave on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday (October 16, 17 and 19), he would get nine days leave till next Sunday (October 20).

Goa appears to be the most sought-after destination for Bangaloreans as KSRTC has pushed in as many as 17 special Volvo services to Panaji, with special fares of Rs. 1,304.

K. Muralidhar, a State government employee, said he has planned the long weekend tour to Goa and already has got confirmed return tickets too by bus. “We rarely get such an opportunity and it is a good time to get a break from the monotony of working, along with the family,” he said.

Extra buses

KSRTC and its sister corporations have introduced as many as 300 buses under advance reservation and over 700 buses without advance reservation facility to cater to the festival rush. These are apart from 200 extra buses being operated for the Dasara festivities in Mysore, said Ashok Kumar, Chief Traffic Manager (Operations), KSRTC. He said the corporations charge minimum extra fare only for special buses because these buses would come back almost empty during their return trip. At the same time, they cannot double the fares like private operators as the fares are governed by set rules of the corporations, he said.

Making good the losses

Private operators on their part defended the hike in fares and said the festival season is the only time where they can get back their investment. “During slack season, we operate buses with very limited load and drastically reduce the fares to get passengers. The loss incurred during the slack season is made good during the peak season,” an operator, who wanted to remain anonymous, said.

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