To capitalise on holiday passenger rush to Andhra Pradesh, private travel operators have more than tripled ticket fares in the run-up to Sankranti.
A cursory search for tickets on web portals of popular travel aggregators reveals fares as high as Rs. 3,000 for luxury travel to Vijayawada and Rajahmundry.
Regular travellers say fares are three times higher than off-season fares. TSRTC and APSRTC have not hiked their prices.
During non-festive season, State operators charge around Rs. 380 for regular travel while luxury travel can cost around Rs. 600. For the same services, private operators charge around Rs. 800.
With the additional 50 percent charged by public operators for travel on special buses during festival season, the fare still does not exceed what private operators charge.
“Train tickets are difficult to get, forcing most people to avail buses. Sensing the huge demand, prices are hiked. Though tickets may be available on RTC buses, many who use phones and apps to book tickets remain unaware of the availability because private aggregators have effective smartphone services,” said G. Mohan Varma, a native of Guntur who works in Hyderabad.
Not to be outdone, the South Central Railway has launched 94 special trains, with most trains going towards Vijayawada. Special trains have also been introduced to Kakinada and Visakhapatnam.
Train services have also being augmented with additional coaches. Railway officials said systems have been put in place to prevent bulk booking.
Bus users also said that though getting a bus ticket could be easier than getting a train ticket and boarding the train at crowded stations, travelling by bus could also be tedious. Traffic jams are frequent on highways and at tollgates that could extent travel time.