Notwithstanding government efforts to rein in exorbitant fares during festival seasons, private tourist bus operators have already increased fares up to 200% on popular sectors from Bengaluru for the upcoming Navaratri/Dasara season.
Not to be left behind, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and the Northeast Karnataka Road Transport Corporation and the Northwest Karnataka Road Transport Corporation also have increased their fares by 35% to 63% for the season, over and above their weekend fare hike formula.
The fares are the highest on October 17 from Bengaluru, a day before Ayudha Pooja, and on October 21, after Navaratri/Dasara and a Sunday, from other places to Bengaluru.
A journey costing Rs. 500 on a non-AC sleeper or Rs. 900 on an AC sleeper private bus between Bengaluru and Mangaluru, on normal days, will cost Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 2,000, respectively, on October 17.
Private players are not operating multi-axle services on the Bengaluru–Mangaluru sector following closure of Shiradi Ghat while the KSRTC operates them on the Kudremukh Ghat section. Similarly, in the Hubballi sector, the Rs. 450–Rs. 2,000 fare bracket has been jacked up to Rs. 1,000–Rs. 3,500 fare bracket. Vinayak Prabhu, a native of Mangaluru who is working in Bengaluru, wondered if the fares are already 200% almost a month before the festival season, what would be the situation at the last minute. Gopal Pai, who initiated the #connectustomangalore Twitter campaign, said exorbitant fares would force people to take out their cars. For a family of four, it makes sense to use a car by spending up to Rs. 5,000 on fuel than spending Rs. 16,000 on bus for a round trip, he said.
The indefinite cancellation of train services on the Bengaluru–Mangaluru sector appears to have contributed to the exorbitant bus fares, said Gautam Shetty, a native of Kundapur who is working in Bengaluru. SWR should run the services either through Madgaon or Palakkad, he added.
On the other hand, the SWR is yet to announce special trains for elsewhere in the State. It normally runs one round trip of special service between Bengaluru and Belagavi, said K.N. Krishna Prasad, a rail fan. He added that Belagavi is not the only place in Karnataka to where people travel in large numbers.