Hyderabad: With most of the 10,000 buses of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation staying off roads due to employees strike, private operators are making a killing by fleecing commuters, despite being warned against it.
The state government had granted temporary permission to many private bus operators to run as stage carriers to help people travel during the festive season.
Autorickshaws and cab aggregators are also resorting to surge pricing, keeping in view the demand in the city. Several hundreds of cars, vans and mini buses near bus stands at various towns across the state and offering rides at exorbitant prices.
"Some goods transport vehicles are also used to ferry people, taking advantage of the situation. Multipurpose Utility Vehicles, which carry people for shorter distances are charging double the price.
For a 70 km distance, the normal charge is less than Rs. 100. But they charge over Rs. 300," Srinivas Vasireddy, a website administrator said.
A senior RTC official said they usually earn between Rs. 10 crore to Rs. 12 crore a day during the festival season and currently were not getting even half of it. The official further said about 4,000 drivers and the equal number of conductors were recruited on a temporary basis on Sunday to run buses.
"Getting experienced drivers for luxury coaches is becoming difficult. We cannot hand over such buses to ordinary drivers," the official told PTI.
The charges are now anywhere between Rs. 800 to Rs. 1000 from Hyderabad to Vijayawada as demand goes up. The usual charge is just about Rs. 300, Murali Krishna, a businessman and regular commuter said.
The State-run RTC usually makes some profit in long-haul routes by plying luxury coaches. With most buses off the roads in this city, Hyderabad Metro Rail had said it increased the frequency of trains, keeping in view the rush.
HMR witnessed over 3.50 lakh footfalls on Saturday, though it has come on Sunday as most people left the city for their villages and towns, a senior HMRL official said.
Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's office on Sunday night had indicated that over 48,000 agitating employees who have not reported for duty by Saturday evening would lose their jobs.
The police took into preventive custody, some leaders of the Joint Action Committee of RTC employees and workers unions when they tried to protest near Gun Park near the assembly. Speaking to reporters E Ashwathama Reddy, JAC convener said they are afraid of arrests.
A senior police official said they were taken into preventive custody as there are prohibitory orders near the Assembly.
Telangana BJP chief spokesperson K Krishna Sagar Rao, in a statement, charged the chief minister with behaving like a monarch with his decision to sack thousands of employees even without any discussions.