Whats the fare, buddy?

Every time bus operators in Kerala demand a fare hike, the government usually goes about describing the unbelievably low bus fares. My experiences with bus travel in TN has been very limited in the past few years. I've only been in buses running in Coimbatore and Chennai. Last month end, I had an opportunity to visit to Madurai (posted earlier). I was looking forward for that trip.

During the course of my stay in Madurai, I was to travel from Periyar Bus Station (The "central" bus station in Madurai) to Madurai Kamaraj University (about 12 kms from the city, on the Theni Highway). I was expecting a bus fare of around Rs. 3-4, given the bus fares in Coimbatore. It was off to a lazy start on the first day - having not slept properly the previous night. I reached the bus station, and wandered around without a particular aim. I kept asking people about which bus would take me to my destination. Finally a driver directed me to the correct bus.

The bus had started moving by then - a quick question to one of the passengers in the bus, and I hopped in. The bus was badly crowded by then - I just about managed to get hold of some standing space. The conductor gave me a ticket - it was Rs. 6. I convinced myself - its a 45 minute ride, and I was paying only Rs. 6 - I would have been paying anywhere between Rs. 15 and Rs. 25 in Kerala for the same ride! The bus kept crawling - literally crawling all the way.

In the evening, I was charged Rs. 9 for the return journey! The same distance, same number of stops and the same traveling time, but was charged Rs. 3 more! The justification was that the bus was a "Semi-Low Floor" model. The next morning, I took the Rs.9 bus again. On the third day, I took an old looking bus, with horrible seats. I had a painful journey, and the fare this time was only Rs. 4!!! The bus took the same running time, stopping at the very same stops!

A couple of days later, I got in to a similar looking buses, and had Rs. 4 change with me - but this time, the ticket was Rs. 5!!! So, whats the real fare? How do they calculate the fare? On speaking to a friend in Madurai, I realised that there were hardly any buses in Madurai that charge only Rs. 2 as the minimum fare. The operator - TNSTC (Madurai) Limited - charges higher fares from passengers under the pretext of "upgraded" services. In reality, these buses stop at all places (or may be skipping only a couple of stops in the entire run), but charge different fares.

The state government has forced the transport corporations to charge low fares in order to please their vote banks. The corporations are now forced to increase fares under the pretext of such upgraded services. No wonder the corporations are purchasing on Semi-low floor buses for city operations and charge more than double the regular fares for these buses. Tamil Nadu has, perhaps, the best transport system. Buses operate almost 24x7, connecting almost all parts of the state. The fares are often cheap as well. But, the government needs to increase fares so that the corporations atleast make up their operational cost, and not resort to such tactics to increase revenue...

At the end, I'd just leave this question to you... Whats the real fare, buddy??


This is nothing new, Binay.

Malayalees are the only species in the world, probably admiring everything happens in Tamilnadu. (That too on simple guess!)

This practice( bus fare)was always there, all over the state. Not just on differently built coaches, but on very ordinary intercity routes, every conductor charges different rates else, you need to argue in their slang.
In states like, MP, UP, Rajasthan and all, you can even negotiate rates on state transports. There is a discount, if you dont need ticket. In MP, the crew operates as and how they want. They fills deasel, goes where there is more collection, all are theirs!.
In our presence, they will settle with the checking squad enroute, with instant shares!

Nothing better than our Kerala.