Private bus operators booked for overcharging
RTO officials file 350 cases against them for permit violations
RTO officials have been on their toes this festive season by cracking down on bus operators who are charging passengers exorbitant fares. For three consecutive days, nearly 40 RTO officials carried out drives in locations such as Majestic, Kalasipalya, Goraguntepalya, Silk Board, and Devanahalli toll gate.
Additional Transport Commissioner C.P. Narayanaswamy said in Bengaluru itself, 350 cases had been booked so far against operators for permit violations, including carrying luggage, overcharging passengers, and defaulting on taxes. One bus was also found transporting two-wheelers in its luggage space.
During the drive, they found several instances of operators charging steep fares. “When we checked a Belagavi-bound bus, passengers said they paid ₹1,600, when usually on this route, operators charge ₹900,” said Mr. Narayanaswamy. Operators who have cases booked against them will be served a notice by the RTO seeking an explanation. “If they are found involved in any permit violations, the State Transport Authority will initiate action against them,” he said.
RTOs across the State are conducting similar drives. Around 200 cases have been filed in other parts of Karnataka. Commissioner for Transport and Road Safety V.P. Ikkeri said the drive would continue for the next few days. “Private operators have defended the fare hike citing operational costs, including the cost of diesel. Many argue that the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) also charges additional fares during the festive season, but they cannot charge exorbitant rates. We have taken statements from passengers and action will be taken after an inquiry,” he said.
Bus operators are up in arms against this drive and argue that the fares have been collected with the consent of passengers. Many said instead of targeting them, the government should reduce taxes. K.T. Rajashekar, chairman of Bus the Operator Confederation of India, said private bus operators were feeling the burden of the heavy taxes.
“Per quarter, we pay ₹3,900 for one seat to the Karnataka government,” he said. The taxes add up depending on the route and the States the buses cover. “For a long-distance route, say Hyderabad, we pay close to ₹6 lakh a bus per quarter as we have to pay taxes in three States. The cost of fuel has gone up drastically, we pay ₹79 a litre. The State government should come to our aid,” Mr. Rajashekar said.