CHENNAI: Come September 10, omni bus passengers will have to shell out up to 25 per cent more for their tickets, following an announcement by the Tamil Nadu Omni Bus Owners Association.
A sleeper coach ticket from Chennai to Madurai, Tiruchy and Coimbatore will now cost Rs 80-100 more, while ticket prices on the multi-axle Volvo buses be hiked by up to Rs 150. The new fares (see box) on some routes are more than twice the rail fare.
For AC buses, the rates have been raised by 30 per cent to Rs 2.25 per km and for non-ac buses, the rise has been 25 per cent to Rs 1.75 per km.
“The price of diesel has increased by Rs 10-12 per litre in the past 18 months, highway toll charges have gone up, the price of automobile spares and tyres have gone up by 30 per cent, insurance premiums are higher. We had no other option but to increase the fares,” A Afzal, president of the association, said. He added that many operators had gone out of business because of dwindling profits. Replying to a query, an association leader stressed that the prices would not be revised during Diwali this year.
Fares to cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Cochin have seen the steepest hike. Sample this: a non-ac sleeper ticket from Chennai to Hyderabad will cost Rs 400 more. According to Afzal, this was because operators have to pay separate road tax in States they traverse. “The road tax for a Chennai-Bangalore bus is Rs 12 lakh per year,” he said. A tatkal ticket on the premium Chennai-Bangalore Shatabdi Express, which has a journey time of five hours, costs the same as a ticket on a Volvo bus which takes approximately six hours to cover the same distance.
“We recently made a representation to Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari for ‘one India, one Permit’ proposal. If implemented, road tax would be collected only once and fares will also come down,” Afzal said.
The association, which has 40 members controlling 900 buses, met the transport commissioner to apprise him of the situation.
Another organisation, the All Omnibus Owners and Operators Association, which has 150 operators as members, has already announced a 10 per cent hike in fares from September 1. “We shall be revising them during the Diwali season,” said Pandian, president of the association.