Thanks to long weekend, buses run packed

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BANGALORE, November 1:  All State transport corporation and private buses leaving Bangalore have full occupancy even as the operators are preparing to run additional buses to clear the rush during the long weekend holidays on account of Rajyotsava and Deepavali.

As on Thursday, only 83 seats were available on transport portal www.redbus.in among 48 private services that offer about 2,160 seats to Hyderabad while all the 47 buses of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) to Hyderabad are full.

About 200 seats were available in 38 private buses to Chennai while all 64 services, including extra buses, of the KSRTC to the Tamil Nadu capital were full on Thursday. About 190 seats were available in 42 private buses to Hubli while all seats were full in 49 services of the KSRTC. About 130 seats were available in 58 private buses to Mangalore while all 91 buses of the KSRTC to this coastal city were full.

Premium fare

Harshith D., a college student who has booked a seat in a private bus to Hyderabad, said he had to visit his relatives during the Deepavali holidays. He said he was not disturbed by the Wednesday’s incident, in which 45 passengers were charred to death onboard a Volvo bus in Andhra Pradesh, as it was an “accident”. Though he wanted to travel by train, getting a confirmed berth at a short notice was impossible and hence he was travelling bus by paying premium fare, Mr. Harshith said.

Goods transportation

While transportation of goods is restricted to passengers’ belongings in KSRTC and APSRTC buses, no such restriction is applicable to private buses. In fact, it is believed in transport circles that private operators earn their revenue by transporting goods — on luggage carriage of conventional buses and in the trunk of air-conditioned services.

A few years ago, the Commercial Taxes Department and the Transport Department had launched joint checking of private tourist buses to check evasion of State taxes as well as permit conditions. However, this practice was discontinued later and at present, tourist buses are not subjected to inspection for transportation of goods, sources in the Transport Department said.

Wednesday’s accident, it is believed, must have been caused by some combustible material being transported in the trunk of the bus as diesel does not immediately catch fire even in case of friction. However, only an investigation by forensic experts could throw light on the cause of the accident, sources said.

Meanwhile, the Transport Department has decided to intensify enforcement of the rules under the Motor Vehicles Act to check any violations by private tourist bus operators.

All-India tourist permit

In Karnataka alone, 2,483 buses have been registered as all-India tourist buses as on date. Hundreds of tourist buses registered in the neighbouring States of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra also enter Karnataka, sources said. The practice of issuing all-India tourist permit commenced after the amended the Act came into force in 1989, sources said.

Checking of private buses for violation of rules had declined in the recent past owing to shortage of inspectors in the Transport Department, sources said. However, after the Wednesday’s accident, the authorities have decided to intensify the enforcement.

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