Kochi: Private tourist bus fares on the Bengaluru-Kerala route have gone through the roof after Kerala Government started strictly implementing taxation rules from November 1. The bus operators claim that fares have been increased as they are now subjected to double taxation and because operational costs have gone up.
However, the unannounced hike is causing much inconvenience to Keralites planning a trip to their home state from Bengaluru and back. While the Kochi-Bengaluru private bus fare is normally Rs 1,200-1,300, it shot up to Rs 1,500-1,600 on November 12 and by Rs 200-300 more on November 13. In fact, there is a normal hike of Rs 400-500 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Kerala had made road tax compulsory for vehicles registered in all others states except Tamil Nadu to enter its territory. Meanwhile, private bus operators said that the fare would go further up.
Making matters worse, bus tickets from Bengaluru to Kochi are not available during the days before Christmas - from December 20 to 25. Some bus operators claim that all tickets have been sold out while others inform passengers that booking is yet to start. At the same time, reservation on Kerala and Karnataka state road transport corporation (RTC) buses is set commence in the coming week.
Every year, private bus ticket rates are increased by around 40% during Christmas and other holidays. For instance, tickets were selling at even Rs 5,000 at the time of this year’s Onam and Puja festivals.
According to Dijo Kappan, chairman of the Public Transport Conservation Committee, private buses have hiked fares bypassing the recommendations of the Justice Ramachandran Committee. “To check the private operators, there should be more frequent services by government carriers. Authorities also have to take steps to allot more trains between Bengaluru and Kerala,” he added.
Bengaluru-Kerala private bus fares
The following is a list of average ticket rates on private buses during Christmas (in rupees):
AC Sleeper: 3,000-3,500
AC Seater: 2,200-2700
Non-AC seater: 1,800-2,000
AC Sleeper: 2,000-2,300
AC Seater: 1,600-1,800
AC Seater: 1,400-1,600
(Booking to Thiruvananthapuram yet to start)
The recently-launched SWIFT buses of the Kerala RTC are charging the same fares as the AC and deluxe buses. During festivals, a 10-per cent hike is implemented as flexi-rate.
Meanwhile, tickets are sold at a higher rate in Karnataka RTC and the difference is Rs 200-400 in AC buses. In deluxe services, Karnataka charges Rs 100-150 more than Kerala.
Kerala RTC’s special services from Bengaluru to southern Kerala during Onam and Puja this year were conducted along the Salem-Coimbatore route. In addition, two specials took the Nagercoil-Tirunelveli route between Thiruvananthapuram and Bengaluru. SWIFT’s service also is on this route.
Kerala RTC fares during weekends
SWIFT AC Sleeper: 1,600-1,700
AC Seater: 1,300-1,400
SWIFT AC Sleeper: 1,200
AC Seater: 1,100-1,300
AC Seater: 700-800
Super Fast: 450
Train tickets sold out
Trains connecting the Karnataka capital and Kerala are not beneficial for a large number of people as full booking takes place four months (120 days) before the festival days. Moreover, special trains are announced only one day before festivals such as Thiruvonam. Such special services are often day trains too.
The Railway operated a Puja special this year on the Yeshwanthapura-Kannur route for a month. However, it was a day-time service on Wednesdays.
Keralites in Bengaluru pointed out that they would benefit only if night services are conducted from Bengaluru on Fridays and from Kerala on Sundays. Moreover, special services should be announced at least two weeks in advance in order to avoid relying on private buses charging exorbitant rates.
The fares (in rupees) in various classes on some popular trains connecting Bengaluru and Kerala are:
KSR Bengaluru-Kanyakumari Express
Bengaluru-Thiruvananthapuram Sleeper: 435
Third AC: 1,180
Two-tier AC: 1,685
AC First Class: 2,840
Baiyyappanahalli-Kochuveli Dynamic Pricing Sleeper: 495
AC Three-tier: 1,340
Yeshwanthapura-Kannur Express (via Salem)
Third AC: 1,000
Second AC: 1,430
KSR Bengaluru-Ernakulam Intercity (Day train)
Second Sitting: 215
AC Chair Car: 785.