Tamil Nadu ‘Omni’ bus on a frantic ride
Considering the three continuous public holidays, Tamil Nadu’s private “Omni” buses charge exorbitant ticket prices, leaving passengers in deep trouble.
According to the sources, as the existing state government buses fill up due to the August 13-15 holiday, travelers have no choice but to depend on Omni buses. Omni bus ticket prices are twice the cost of the State Express Transport Corporation (SETC).
Hundreds of students and commuters from other districts flock to Koyambedu and Chennai’s main bus stations.
Over the past two days there have been several reports of Omni buses scamming customers. Several people took it online to post their grievances. They claimed the Omni bus fare to Tiruvannamalai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Nagercoil was exorbitant.
— Sanju Sham🇮🇳 (@SanjuSham7) August 12, 2022
Passengers expressed their concern on various news channels and said only those who can afford the price can travel while others have to postpone their trip.
Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Pannerselvam said it is normal during the festive season that more passengers seek the service of the public transport system and Omni buses take advantage of the situation by levying the fare which is now on a par with plane tickets.
He said operators charge up to Rs 3,200 for one person to travel to Madurai, Rs 3,000 to Tiruchirapalli, Rs 3,850 to Nagercoil and Rs 4,000 to Coimbatore, while it was usually between Rs 800 and Rs 900.
Pannerselvam noted that these prices are displayed openly on the websites of private bus aggregators.
He urged the Chief Minister to intervene and seek an amicable solution that will benefit both passengers and private operators.
@sivasankar1ss Sir Bus fares are too high in @redBus_in @TNOmniBusAss.Every time these guys do like this, no action so far. The best TN government can take control and set the rate. Don’t give https://t.co/83diTyZAZP a proper answer from Redbus, Useless App /t.co/JoIT0ICQdb pic.twitter.com/WdrAwhgQiC
— Rajesh (@rajeshkumar7565) August 12, 2022
Under these circumstances, following reports of Omni bus operators charging high fees to passengers, state transportation department authorities conducted a surprise inspection at a few bus terminals across the city and penalized the buses, which charged additional fees to travelers.
SS Sivashankar, the state transport minister, told reporters that strict action would be taken against those who collect an excess charge from passengers and noted that a committee under the transport commissioner had been formed to investigate the complaints of some Omni buses robbing passengers. Based on their report, appropriate action would be taken. He said special buses would be organized from Chennai to other cities.
A Anbalagan, General Secretary of All Omnibus Owners and Operators Association, Tamil Nadu, told indianexpress.com that dynamic fare pricing has been practiced in all modes of transport and private bus operators cannot be blamed alone .
“We are contractual service providers. There is no fixed fare for Omni buses here according to the Motor Vehicle Act. We had approached the state government to set a minimum rate for our vehicles both during long weekends, during the festival as well as on other days on several occasions, but there was no initiation by the government. Yes, we understand that the public struggles with high fares, but not all vehicles charge extra. In government, there are only two types – AC and non-AC. However, we have several varieties like Volvo AC/non-Ac sleeper, semi-sleeper, multi-axle semi-sleeper, among others and therefore the price differs from installation to installation. The maintenance price of Omni buses is much higher than that of government buses and therefore operators set the price accordingly,” he said.