CHENNAI: The government and private buses plying in and around Chennai have been charging passengers more than government-stipulated rates, revealed the State transport department in response to an RTI application. Subsequent responses to the RTI petitioner’s other queries have opened the Pandora’s box, as many mofussil buses operated by Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) from Chennai have been found violating norms pertaining to minimum fare.
TNSTC operates two different types of mofussil buses from Chennai — ordinary and express — through Villupuram and Salem divisions. According to existing State norms, fares for buses plying as ordinary and express services are fixed at 42 paise per km and 56 paise per km respectively.
“However in reality, many ordinary service buses collect rates fixed for express services. For instance, ordinary buses plying in between Koyambedu and Poonamallee via Maduravoyal should collect only `9. However, they collect `14, which is fixed for express buses,” said P Senthil Kumar, a techie from Ayyanpanthangal who has been fighting a prolonged legal battle.
Responding to this, a TNSTC official from Villupuram said the buses plying in the said route were altered due to Metro Rail and bridge construction works. “Though the fare was not altered initially, it was revised as the projects were prolonging.” As per rule 246 of the Motor Vehicle Act, TNSTC should not operate express services in any routes where the total distance is less than 80 km and distance between two stages should not be less than 25 km for the benefit of long-distance passengers.
Express tag with no benefits for passengers
But in Chennai, TNSTC has been operating express services even in 20 to 30 km routes — Redhills to Ponneri (21 km), Ponneri to Pazhaverkadu (20 km). Tiruvallur to Uthukottai (25 km) and Tiruvallur to Sriperumbudur (22 km).
“Ordinary buses in these routes were replaced with express buses so that TNSTC’s revenue gets a boost. But the passengers are not enjoying the benefits as buses stop in all stages prescribed for ordinary buses,” Senthil added.
The transport department, in response to a query, filed by Senthil has admitted that some private and government buses in Poonamallee and Tiruvallur were found violating these norms and a memo has been sent. Before 2011, stage-chart for buses plying between Thiruvallur and Poonamallee was fixed at 27 km. After GO no 783 in 2011 revising fares, stage-chart was changed to 29 km. A TNSTC official said distance increased when bus stands were retraced.