Chennai: Lakhs of passengers commuting in Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) buses for inter-city travel probably are not aware of the fact that they are shelling out five rupees extra for each ride from Koyambedu to Poonamallee and vice versa.
Before 2010, buses would take two routes for the same destinations, 24-km stretch via Porur, Guindy, which cost Rs 11 for an ordinary ride and Rs 14 for express and 16-km stretch via Madhuravoyal that cost Rs 7 for an ordinary ride, and Rs 9 for express.
Owing to the Porur bridge construction and metro work, all the buses in the former route including 76C, 84, 89, 97, 100, 101, 102, 123, 201, 528 were diverted to Maduravoyal.
Seven years down the line, all diverted buses still collect a fare of `14 as opposed to `9 they are supposed to collect owing to the drop in the number of km. Much to the dismay, even the buses in the Maduravoyal route initially charging `9 have revised fares to Rs 14.
“As per Motor Vehicles Act 287 (2), if a carriage needs to ply on temporary route, it should obtain the permit for that route and hence, collect the fare fixed for that respective route. But in this case, they are collecting the fare fixed for its shorter route though they run on longer route,” said activist P. Citizen Senthil who acts on transport issues.
He has also filed a consumer case in 2013, which was rejected after three years as officials claimed that they were following various government orders. “There is only one government order and till date, I do not get on what grounds they rejected my case. I have filed another case recently for which the hearings are going on,” he added.
However, conductors and drivers say they are unaware about ticket pricing and are functioning according to the orders of managers. A conductor of 76 B said officials have asked not to question against the ticket prices and do what he is supposed to. On the other hand, public are flabbergasted as they are not acquainted with the issue.
When contacted, an official from TNSTC told Deccan Chronicle that the prices were supposed to be revised in 2016. However, with a series of uncertainties that followed, they were unable to take a step.
TNSTC charging extra rates
It is not only the private omni buses fleeing commuters violating the transport department norms but also state-run TNSTC collecting extra charges in contrast to rates fixed by the state.
The situation remains the same across the state despite several complaints on basic tariff rates and services fixed by the authorities that are not adhered.
“TNSTC has different grades of buses for in-state and inter-city travel. While express buses charge high prices with fewer intervals, ordinary buses are inversely proportional. But, most of the ordinary mofussil buses collect express charge, but services are not provided,” said Krishnakanth, a regular commuter.
Prices were last revised by TNSTC in 2011 and following that commuters allege that 90 per cent of the buses are express buses and not ordinary ones. It neither reduces cost nor travel time, they added.
Commuter T.J. Thyagarajan says from Uthukkotai to Tiruvallur the fare collected is Rs 16 as opposed to the standard fare of `12. Following that, he filed a PIL after which he claims the public relation officer convinced him to take it back. The plight of the commuters had been same for the past five years.
When questioned against it, an official from TNSTC said, “If the express bus is full, we provide proper service and reach the destination in one stop. But, if the commuters are less, the bus stops everywhere to balance the collection. This is being done in a view to compensate the losses the department is facing.”