The high demand for comfortable rides on air-conditioned luxury buses from Patna to various district headquarters has prompted the operators to hike the fares on some of the routes.
Gireesh Infrastructure Private Limites — the private agency that operates the buses under the banner of Bihar State Road Transport Corporation — claims that the buses have catered to more than 1 lakh passengers since December 10, 2011, when the service was launched. “Almost all our buses are running full these days. There are decent number of advance bookings as well,” said a senior executive of the Hyderabad-based private company.
The high demand for travelling on these buses has prompted the operators to increase the fare on different routes by at least Rs 25 (see chart).
A source said the fares on the inter-district routes in Bihar have been increased. Those travelling to Ranchi and Jamshedpur, however, would be able to travel at the same fare, as there is not much demand on these routes.
Frequent travellers corroborate the operator’s claim. “I travel frequently between Muzaffarpur and Patna. Earlier tickets were available easily — one could buy tickets even right before departure. But now, not many seats are available. So, I make online bookings three to four days in advance,” said Muzaffarpur resident Sujit Kumar.
Those unaware of the rush may have to encounter unpleasant situations.
“I came to Patna with my family from Delhi two weeks ago. I had planned to buy tickets on the luxury buses to Darbhanga. I thought I would get them easily. But to my surprise, I found that not a single seat was available on either of the two buses that ply on the route. I had to take a private non-AC bus to Darbhanga. I didn’t like that at all,” said Purushottam Thakur, a resident of Laheriasarai, Darbhanga.
Passengers who are lucky enough to get the tickets can travel in Mercedes or Volvo buses.
Of the 92 buses that the operators propose to run, only 22 are on road at present. Others are waiting for clearance and permissions.
“We have a fleet of 30 more buses ready to ply on the roads but we are forced to keep them idle because the permits for these have not been issued. The buses that we want to operate between Patna and Calcutta are also facing similar hurdles. The governments of both Bihar and Bengal have signed agreements to operate the inter-state bus services. But we have not been issued the permits,” said a senior Gireesh Infrastructure official.