Thiruvananthapuram: The Christmas-New Year festive season is a time when a large number of Keralites settled or temporarily staying in big metro cities like Bengaluru make plans to reunite with their families and revel in the festive spirit. However, private contract buses, often the go-to option for many, take advantage of the surge in demand by charging exorbitant fares, leaving the commuters with a bitter taste in their mouth.
The scenario is not different this time too as the private buses have unreasonably hiked the ticket prices for travel to various destinations in Kerala from Bengaluru, Mysuru, and Chennai. This is when there are no seats available on the trains as the booking for sleeper and AC categories in all services in the Bengaluru-Kerala sector is already on the waiting list.
The flight charges, meanwhile, have surged from an average of Rs 3000 to over Rs 11,000. The airfare to Thiruvananthapuram is now ranging in the Rs 17,000-Rs 20, 000 mark. One has to dole out up to Rs 24,000 to fly to the Kerala capital from Chennai on December 22 and 23. The flight charges to Kochi crossed Rs 20,000 and are poised to surge further.
The private buses have resorted to their usual modus operandi of fleecing the commuters during the holiday season. The passengers who already booked their seats on these buses are suddenly informed that the trips have been cancelled and that the ticket prices will be refunded. And then, these buses are made available for seat booking at exorbitant ticket prices on online booking sites.
The online ticket price for travel on December 22, when most number of people travel to Kerala from Bengaluru, is up to Rs 4999 per head. This can further move up to Rs 5500. Similarly, the travel fare from Chennai to various destinations in Kerala too has surged to Rs 3000 -- Rs 3500 range on that day. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) is levying a fare of Rs 1600 for travel to Bengaluru. A 30 % flexi rate hike will be implemented during the heavy rush days.
The travel woes of Malayalees visiting home are further compounded by the late announcement of special train services by the railways, often after completion of ticket booking in regular trains. The special trains in the sector are yet to be decided, though only a couple of days are left for the Christmas-New Year holidays. Though the KSRTC was planning to hire 300 luxury private buses to conduct inter-state services to cater to the heavy rush of commuters, the same has reached nowhere, as the official process got severely delayed.