Ticket turmoil: Private bus fares surge amid poll travel rush in Telangana

To accommodate the influx, TSRTC deployed an additional 400 to 450 special buses on Friday and Saturday along various routes, primarily to Vijayawada and Kurnool.
Ahead of poll day in TG and AP, people wait to board a bus at the KPHB bus stand in Hyderabad on Saturday
Ahead of poll day in TG and AP, people wait to board a bus at the KPHB bus stand in Hyderabad on Saturday Photo | Vinay Madapu

HYDERABAD: As the State Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Andhra Pradesh are to be held simultaneously on Monday, a surge in passenger traffic from the city was witnessed on Saturday.

While passengers travelling via AP and Telangana RTC buses continued to benefit from the regular fares, those opting for private operators faced steep hikes in ticket prices, from 75% to 100%.

To accommodate the influx, TSRTC deployed an additional 400 to 450 special buses on Friday and Saturday along various routes, primarily to Vijayawada and Kurnool.

“The buses are allocated based on passenger traffic. We are plying them to several districts like Rajahmundry, Guntur, Ongole, Tirupati, Visakhapatnam. Typically the regular number of buses to AP stands at 280,” a source within RTC told TNIE.

With a daily ridership of approximately 55 lakh, including services like Super Luxury, Palle Velugu, Deluxe, Express among others, the pre-election period has seen a surge to four to five lakh passengers with majority of them traveling to AP.

For voters travelling to remote areas of Telangana, around 1,500 special buses have been added over the four days from JBS, Uppla, LB Nagar, MG Bus and other terminals.

“Those travelling to the interiors of Telangana are likely to travel on Sunday evening or Monday morning. The passengers who belong to far-off districts like Wanaparthy, Mahbubnagar, Achampet and others will travel on Sunday evening and the ones from nearby places like Warangal on Monday morning,” a source said.

Despite booking tickets two weeks in advance, passengers opting for private buses to AP found themselves compelled to pay exorbitant fares. The ones who tried to book RTC buses earlier for cheaper fares were left dejected by full bookings.

One such passenger was Arun Teja (32), who was going to his native in West Godavari’s Moghalpur mandal. Waiting for the bus at Ameerpet bus stop, the mechanical engineer told TNIE, “On a regular day, I book a bus to my hometown through RTC for Rs 800. Even the private bus ticket costs Rs 1,050. However, due to the rush, I am shelling out Rs 3,000. What can I do? I want to exercise my right to vote,” Teja said.

S Ravi Teja, a design engineer and his friends got lucky as they managed to find reservations in an APSRTC seater bus. Traveling to his native place in Rajahmundry from SR Nagar bus stop, he told TNIE, “When I checked private bus fares two weeks ago, they had shot up to Rs 2,000 when they usually are Rs 700-800.”

Teja believed that people had started booking the buses as soon as the election dates were announced. When asked what the trio would have done if they would not have found the bookings in the RTC, he remarked, “Either we would have dropped the idea or traveled by bike as private buses ticket prices were very high.”

A private bus tours and travels agency at Ameerpet claimed that the prices have increased sharply between 75% and 100% as a result of huge demand. “Suppose, if the price from Hyderabad to Vijayawada is Rs 500 to Rs 700 for a sleeper bus, it has gone up to Rs 1,800. For Vijayawada, if it was Rs 800 to 900 earlier, it has escalated to Rs 2,500 to 3,000.”

MA Gaffar, a driver of a private bus agency, told TNIE that apart from the huge demand of commuters, another reason for fare escalation is the fear of returning empty-handed due to holiday.

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