As Pongal holidays begin, pvt bus operators in TN make a killing

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on January 11, 2018 Published on January 11, 2018

Bus fares on a popular website showing rates of private bus operators, cashing in on the bus strike called by state transport corporation employees   -  Bijoy Ghosh

Prolonged protest by transport workers of Tamil Nadu enters eighth day today. File Photo   -  The Hindu

State transport corporations workers on strike

Long-distance private bus operators are charging exorbitant rates for travel on the eve of Pongal holidays, said M Sudharshan, a software engineer, who paid three times the usual price to book a ticket for tomorrow to travel to his home town Madurai.

They are exploiting the strike by State transport corporations employees, said Sudharshan who did not mind paying higher fare. He had to shell out over ₹2,000, which is triple the cost on an ordinary day, and more than four times when compared to government-run deluxe fare.

Exorbitant rates

Similarly, a trip from Chennai to Tiruchirapalli cost nearly ₹1,000, which is twice the normal. The greater the distance, the higher the rate, according to data available in various bus ticket booking websites.

When contacted, officials of leading bus operators denied that they are charging high and said fares are based purely on demand and supply, said an official of a transport operator.

However, a random check for fares at Perungalatur (near Tambaram) showed that the fares were quite high when compared to ordinary days.

With State government announcing holiday on Friday too, people flocked to Koyambedu and Perungalatur bus stands since morning to avoid last-minute rush on Friday to visit their native places. However, they were disappointed as government buses were off the road, and most of private buses coming from Koyambedu were packed and did not stop at Perungalathur.

People boarded any vehicle that took them to their native place. A truck charged ₹300 to Madurantakam while a van charged ₹500. Some even risked their life by travelling on rooftops.

With the strike by employees of government transport corporations continuing, travellers are upset with both the State government and striking employees for spoiling their holiday plans.

“Pongal and Diwali are the only times we go to our hometown. We cannot be made to suffer like this,” said G Sivagami, a native of Tiruchendur and an employee with a textile showroom in T Nagar, a busy commercial place.

Govt bus strike

The indefinite strike started on January 4 night by over one lakh employees affiliated to transport unions demanding wage hike and settlement of dues to retired employees. The State government offered an increase by 2.44 times while the striking employees stuck to their demand of 2.57 times.

The Madras High Court today left it to the conscience of striking employees to decide whether they could ply buses from today for the next five days in view of festival and in the interest of public.

Published on January 11, 2018
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