The fares for non-AC buses from Chennai to Madurai ranged between Rs 800 and Rs 1,999 against the usual Rs 600 to Rs 700. The cost of AC sleeper tickets was up to Rs 2,150 on the same route. Fares to Tirunelveli, Kanniyakumari, Nagercoil, Thoothukudi, Thiruchendur peaked up to Rs 1,100 to Rs 2,500. Passengers to southern districts were among the worst affected.
Similarly, ticket fares on routes such as Chennai-Coimbatore, Chennai-Tiruchy, Chennai-Thanjavur, Chennai-Mayiladuthurai, Chennai-Karur ranged between Rs 1,000-Rs 1,800.
“Normally, I travel by train to Nagercoil for the festival. Due to limited train services, I did not get a confirmed ticket. I had no option but to pay Rs 2,300 for an AC sleeper seat to Nagercoil. The usual fare is around Rs 1,000-1,200,” said K Mahesh, a native of Nagercoil.
Omni-bus operators denied charging higher fares during festival seasons and blamed travel agencies for fleecing commuters. “These buses, mostly smaller service transporters, overcharge, not bigger companies like us. The profit margin of bus operation has drastically come down due to COVID-19,” said an office-bearer of the Omnibus Owners Association.A transport department official said passengers could complain about the fares.
“On the receipt of complaints, we would take action. We have set up a 24-hour control room and special teams to act on such complaints. Passengers can also register complaints at the toll-free number 18004256151,” he said.
Meanwhile, 1.91 lakh passengers travelled on 4,140 buses operated by the State transport undertakings in the view of Pongal festival as of Tuesday at 4 pm.