WITH sharp rise in number of passengers, private bus operators appear to be burning a deep hole in the pockets of travellers. Taking advantage of the increased demand, bus operators have inflated fares by about 50 per cent. Passengers travelling between the cities where frequency of train is ‘not upto the mark’ are the worst-affected ones.
They are paying 60 to 70 per cent more as compared to the rates in other season. Though the hike in rates was visible from early April, it is at its peak in last week of current month. Passengers are paying in the range of Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,700 for a Nagpur-Pune ticket. Normally, it is between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,200. Similarly, passengers have been paying Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,050 for Nagpur to Aurangabad travel as against the normal season rate of Rs 650 to Rs 750. Fair of private buses plying from Nagpur to Nashik, Nanded, Indore, Ahmednagar, Shirdi, Satara and Akola among other cities have been also witnessing a similar hike. “Yes, the rates are on higher side these days. It is mainly because of summer vacations and marriage season.
The number of passengers have gone up significantly and thus the rates are high,” said one of the travel agents on the condition of anonymity. He said that the rates would remain high till mid-June. “End of May and first two weeks of June are considered peak season in our business. We get good number of bookings during this period and buses see 100 per cent occupancy. This is the time when we recover the losses incurred in off season,” he said adding that the number of passengers would drop manifold in rainy season. At present, there is huge rush of passengers going to attend marriage ceremonies. Apart from this, there is increased number of business class people and students travelling on these routes. It is worth mentioning here that there is non-availability of train tickets on most of these routes.
Another travel agent based in MHADA Complex on Amravati Road also said that the rates had gone up. “Rates are directly proportional to demand. If it is high, fair goes up and that is what is happening right now. Besides, there is a component of natural growth,” he further said. It is important to note that the recently-concluded Lok Sabha polls had also increased number of passengers. “Right from Phase I of elections, we were getting good response from passengers. We had seen 100 per cent bus occupancy on many routes and the trend continued till counting of polls,” said yet another travel agent.