The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, the first state transport undertaking in India to have a web-based passenger seat reservation system “Any Where Any Time Advanced Reservation System” (Awatar) since April 29, 2006, doesn’t seem to be keen on allowing short-distance booking.

It doesn’t allow booking even for a distance of 332km for which an Airavat Club Class (Volvo) bus takes 6 hours, 30 minutes to traverse.

Manoj Lokhande, who tried to book a seat from Hubballi to Satara by service number: 1300MYSMUM Volvo bus for January 25, said he wondered if all seats had been booked. “When I tried booking seats for the Hubballi-Mumbai journey, I found 33 seats vacant. The bus stops at Satara and Awatar shows a fare of Rs 817. But we have to book it by paying the higher fare to Mumbai,” he said.

He added, “Hubballi to Satara is not a short distance; it’s almost an overnight journey. I wanted to book seats for my family members but was disappointed to know it was not possible.”

Ma Vem Sa Prasad, a consumer rights activist, said when a bus stops at a particular place, the transport corporation should also enable booking. “If it has any norms for short-distance passengers, it should post the reservation rules.”

Advocate Chamaraj Bangi said it’s an unfair trade practice under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. “It’s manipulation by KSRTC. If any service provider can’t offer a service to customers, it should inform them about it,” he said.
Shivanand, chief traffic manager, NWKRTC, Hubballi, said this bus is operated by the KSRTC’s Mysuru division. “We’re also clueless about this issue as it’s managed by KSRTC,” he added.

“A minimum 50% of the total distance should be covered to be able to book a seat in advance. Awatar is built according to minimum distance criteria to avoid short-distance booking. However, we’ll check its legal sanctity and try to incorporate a dialogue box to state it for people who intend to book seats on Awatar,” said Nayana, divisional traffic officer, Awatar, and VTMS Section, KSRTC central office, Bengaluru.