Alappuzha: The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) on Wednesday started operating inter-state services in view of the heavy pilgrim flow from neighboring states, especially Tamil Nadu. Initially, services will be held to three destinations: Palani, Coimbatore, and Tenkasi. The corporation has also obtained permits to operate services to Chennai, Theni, Tirunelveli, Madurai, and Kanya Kumari. “We started the inter-state services to Palani, Coimbatore, and Tenkasi. Initially, they will operate based on passenger demand before a fixed schedule is worked out. The services to the other destinations will be initiated later based on passenger demand,” said Sunil Kumar, KSRTC Special Officer, Pamba.
The ticket rate for Pamba-Palani (Super-Fast) is Rs 408 per person, while that for Coimbatore (FP) is Rs 535 and Tenkasi Rs 303. Meanwhile, the corporation has increased the frequency of Pamba-Nilackal chain services to five buses per minute during peak hours in the 21-km section. The per-head ticket fare for AC buses is Rs 80 and for non-AC buses Rs 50. The state-owned carrier has recorded over Rs five crore in the first 11 days of the season, with the single-day highest collection of Rs 62 lakh on November 25. “We’ve deployed an additional 30 buses for conducting services to Kottayam, Chengannur, and Ernakulam in view of the heavy rush. This is in addition to 230 daily schedules being operated to Pamba from different points across the state.
Budget tourism service from Chennai
Meanwhile, long-haul budget tourism services, where a group of a minimum of 40 pilgrims can book an entire bus, have also commenced. “The first service being operated by the Budget Tourism cell of the KSRTC was conducted on November 24, from Chennai to Pamba and back. So far 14 services were successfully conducted from various destinations,” a top official said. The famous Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala has opened for Mandala Pooja Maholsavam on November 16. The first leg of the pilgrimage season will end on December 27. The temple will again reopen on December 30 for the ‘Makaravilakku festival, which will conclude by January 20.