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Omni buses hike fares to cash in on long weekend

It is not Pongal, Christmas or New Year holidays. But those travelling to and from Coimbatore to destinations like Chennai and Bengaluru between April 28 and May 1 are forced to pay a heavy amount as omni bus operators have jacked up the fares taking advantage of the extended weekend.

Omni buses hike fares to cash in on long weekend
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Coimbatore

As almost all the trains are full due to summer vacation, the only option, especially for the working class, is omni bus. Though the extended weekend is only a three-day holiday, fares have been increased by the bus operators because of the high demand during summer holidays. 

“On normal days, the maximum fare for an A/C sleeper berth in an omni bus between Chennai and Coimbatore is between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,100. A few operators even offer A/C sleeper berths for Rs 650. The minimum fare ranges from Rs 300 to Rs 350 for a semisleeper and a non-AC sleeper starts from Rs 400,” said R Saravanan of Peelamedu, who works in Chennai. “Now, operators are charging Rs 2,499 for an AC semisleeper from Chennai to Coimbatore,” he added. 

Operators are also resorting to dynamic fares on an hourly basis just like the airline companies. For Friday, over 50 operators have fixed the fare between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,499, and another 25 operators between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,000 and more than half a dozen operators have announced Rs. 2,000 a seat or berth. On the other hand, fare for Coimbatore to Chennai on May 1 (Monday) is higher, starting at Rs 770, said the commuters.

Meanwhile, fare for the 360-km trip between Coimbatore and Bengaluru is even more higher. One of the operators has fixed Rs 2,850 as fare for a A/C sleeper berth. More than a dozen operators are charging over Rs 2,000.

Hike tied to poor business 

Omni bus operators, who have announced exorbitant fare for this weekend, are defending their decision. It is a practice with the omni bus operators association to fix specific fare during festivals or holidays for a group of operators. However, the story is different this time. “This summer, thanks to the extended weekend, business is somewhat satisfactory. However, there are a few problems due to various issues, including the uncertainty over the government,” R Baskar, President of Coimbatore Omni Bus Owners Association, told DTNext.

He said that when the government was stable, people used to travel to Chennai in groups to meet ministers and officials. Among the other issues faced by the operators is the drastic increase in the number of buses to 100 on the Coimbatore-Chennai route, besides the weekly tax of Rs 25,000 per bus fixed by the State Government and the hike in toll fee.

Baskar pointed out that on Saturday, a few operators have planned to operate a semi-sleeper for Rs 250 between Coimbatore and Chennai and Rs 300 for sleeper. “This is much less than the government buses. The operators have to incur a heavy loss as they don’t get a fair deal on such trips,” he added.

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