Surge pricing as omni bus operators try to take advantage of holiday rush

Going to home towns for Dasara holidays may turn out to be the most expensive affair for commuters in the State. For, omni bus operators have hiked up fares though they still claim inability to break even.

This time of the year, many families either go on pilgrimage or visit relatives and friends. With COVID-19 cases on a decline and many taking the vaccination, the inclination to travel has increased.

Travellers allege that the bus operators have taken advantage of the festival rush and charge the highest ticket fare ever over the last couple of years.

M. Monitha, a medical college student here, who was travelling to her hometown near Chennai on Sunday, said: “We got to know of the leave on Monday only at the last minute. The tickets that usually cost ₹500-600 are now over ₹800," she said.

For her return trip, on Dasara day, the tickets are priced at ₹1,540, she added. “We live on student budget and cannot afford these prices.”

Bus operators cite increase in fuel prices, lack of business and pending loan payments among various reasons for the spike.

R. Balakrishnan, president, Tiruchi Omni Bus Operators Association, says bus owners are yet to derive utility of the holiday season. So far, there has been no enquiry or bookings for several bus operators. “People are yet to purchase tickets at normal prices; we would not sell even one ticket at inflated prices.”

Many bus operators are yet to take their buses out of their parking lots. Only one-fourth of the buses being operated on normal days out of the omni bus stand in Tiruchi are being plied now, he adds.

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