The dreadful experience of scrambling for bus tickets in the eleventh hour reach the level of madness during every festival season when thousands rush home ahead of the holiday. And this always entails paying an exorbitant fare to travel on private omni buses. This has led to the general perception among the public that private operators fleeced them during this peak period, with complaints rising days ahead of every important festival.
Equally familiar by now is the state government’s warning private transport companies ahead of festival season. There has even been instances where few vehicles were seized on charges of charging exorbitant fare from the public. In addition, the State Transport department also has a hotline for the public to register public complaints related to private omni buses. The officials conduct inspections during this period, taking action against transporters for flouting rules.
But this clearly is a tricky terrain. During a recent press meet, State Transport Minister MR Vijayabaskar admitted that the government has no provision under the Motor Vehicles Act to fix tariffs for omni buses. If the state government does not have any provision under law for fixing ticket rates, what grounds are there to take action against the ‘violators’? In fact, such is the situation that experts, public and veteran journalists are raising questions about terming them violators in the absence of a law.
In the absence of a law, it appears that the warnings and even actions including vehicle seizures are only about assuaging public sentiments.
—Nivedhika Krishnan, Chennai