Private bus operators are almost doubling their fares this festive season. KSRTC, on the other hand, has upped its fares on special (additional) buses only by 10 per cent.
Between December 24 and 30, private bus fares are higher because of the increased demand, despite the government often threatening action against such profiteering.
Fares return to normal after January 1. Seats both on private and KSRTC buses are filling up fast.
Destinations that showed almost double fare on private bus websites were Kochi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Vishakhapatnam (see box).
Metrolife spoke to the manager of a private bus company.
He admitted it had hiked fares by Rs 800 to Rs 1,000 on long-haul buses. “This is the normal practice during the festive season. Our online booking can be done a month in advance but we have to increase the rates to accommodate the last-minute rush. This is the only way we can manage additional trips,” he says.
Trains to Kerala, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai are running full, with many working in Bengaluru going home for Christmas and the New Year.
A booking official at the Krantiveera Sangolli Rayyanna Bengaluru City Railway Station says, “We see a spike in online bookings this season because people plan their vacation in advance. Those coming to the counter are few because people those who decide on last-minute travel usually travel by bus. If people are left with no options, they travel by train in an unreserved compartment.” Anantha, lab technician, regularly travels to Shivamogga.
“There is provision for online booking on the KSRTC website, but it doesn’t work properly,” he says. People with physical disability have a hard time travelling by long-distance buses, especially during the festive season.
Mohammed, affected by polio, says on many KSRTC buses, no seats are reserved for those with physical disability.
“I had to shell out more to go to Shivamogga. I didn’t have an option but to pay through my nose. Last-minute travellers are definitely fleeced,” he says.
Prathamesh, an educationist, wanted to book four KSRTC tickets from Bengaluru to Belgaum. He could book only three online by train and came to the station to book the rest.
“I was told the tickets are waitlisted and may not get confirmed. I am now forced to look for alternatives,” he says.
87 special KSRTC buses
A senior official in charge of booking says KSRTC has deployed 87 additional buses to enable Christmas and New Year’s Day travel.
“We ply additional buses only if the demand spikes. This year, we have additional buses plying to Kochi, Kottayam, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Nellore, Tirupati, Mantralayam, Pune, Panaji, Puducherry, Madurai, Trichy and Coimbatore,” he told Metrolife. KSRTC charges a 10 per cent premium on such special buses, he says. Fares to Kochi and Panaji command a bigger premium at Rs 1,500, about Rs 500 more than normal. “This is done because some buses return empty,” he explains
Fares of private buses
From Bengaluru, December 24 to 30
Kochi: Rs 1,700 to Rs 2,600
Rs 1,400 to Rs 3,030
Rs 1,300 to Rs 2,200
Chennai: Rs 595 to Rs 1,600
Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,250
Mumbai and Vishakhapatnam fares continue to be higher than usual, but fares to the other destinations dip to half after January 1.
From Bengaluru, December 24 to 30
(Multi-axle): Rs 700
Hyderabad: Rs 950
Kochi: Rs 1,160
Goa: Rs 1,050
Fares to Panaji and Kochi on special buses