Will cancel permits if Pune private bus operators fleece commuters: state transport minister
Diwakar Raote, state transport minister said that the latest decision has been taken following a number of complaints received regarding passengers being overcharged during the summer season, which is the peak holiday time period.Updated: May 09, 2018 17:40 IST
Private bus operators are likely to lose out on their permits if they continue to fleece passengers by overcharging them, said Diwakar Raote, state transport minister, while reacting to reports published by Hindustan Times about passengers being charged extra for long distance travel.
Raote said that the latest decision has been taken following a number of complaints received regarding passengers being overcharged during the summer season, which is the peak holiday time period.
“We have received complaints and acted upon the same by fining seven bus contractors. If things continue this way, then, we will cancel their permits across Maharashtra, including Pune,” said Raote in an interview.
The rush to travel across cities during the summer vacation is always high. Passengers have complained that they have been forced to pay five times more than the average ticket fare. Akhil Bhartiya Grahak Panchayat, while appealing to passengers to come forward against private operators, said that a written complaint has been filed with the Regional Transport Office (RTO).
According to private transport agents, many believe that the huge demand for tickets to certain destinations and limited availability of buses have led to the scenario of overcharging and exploiting passengers.
The public interest litigation (PIL) filed by city-based advocate Asim Sarode in the Bombay high court in 2005 had raised the issue of exploitation of passengers by private bus operators. The Bombay high court had directed the state government to take appropriate steps to issue a notification fixing the minimum and maximum fare of contract carriages.
Balasaheb Khedekar, president, Pune District Luxury Bus Association, said, “Regular buses are run on normal rates and if they are full, then, we arrange special buses to certain destinations in accordance with the requirement of customers. The state transport does not have to pay the toll, but we have to pay a heavy toll of around ₹2,500 per day for Pune-Kolhapur-Pune (for one day return) and deposit passenger tax worth ₹2,500, in addition to diesel and driver costs. We want parking space facility to be provided by the government, which has not been given to us till date. We have rented a place for parking and are paying ₹300 per day for it. Besides, the operators charge us ₹200 per passenger for pick up points en route the journey. Hence, there is no option, but to raise ticket fares. There is a need for the government to look into our problems holistically.”
Following a report published in HT about passengers being overcharged by private bus operators, Suryakant Pathak, activist and president of Akhil Bhartiya Grahak Panchayat, met the regional transport officer in Pune and submitted to him a letter demanding action against operators.
“We have filed a complaint against these malpractices with the RTO and have asked the officials to define what steps they have taken to tackle the menace. Passengers commuting to destinations like Nagpur, Amravati, Aurangabad and Nanded from Pune by private buses during the summer season often travel on a day’s notice, hence, they end up paying exorbitant prices for their travel,” said Pathak.