It appears that for once the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has managed to outrun private operators, who make profits before and during Ganeshotsav by introducing additional bus services to Konkan.
Commuters wait for MSRTC employees to tag the ST buses leaving for Konkan for Ganeshtostav at Dadar (West) yesterday. Pic/Satyajit Desai
Travel agents in Vashi revealed they were incurring heavy losses, as commuters are opting for cheaper mode of transport over luxury. They said additional services introduced by the MSRTC have eaten into their profits.
Travel agent Gulab said, “This year, the number of private buses for Konkan is far less in comparison to last year. The MSRTC has increased its special bus fleet this time. People travel with their families during festival time, so they prefer ST buses because of the cheaper fare.” He also claimed that a few prominent politicians have started bus services towards Konkan at reasonable rates, affecting their business further.
Agents said around 25 to 30 private operators manage bus services to Konkan and each of them adds seven to eight extra buses during festive season. But this year the number of additional buses has dropped down to just two. They claimed their profit margins had reduced by 50 per cent despite being a peak season.
MSRTC officials said that considering the ever-increasing number of commuters heading for Konkan to celebrate Ganeshotsav, they added 500 additional services. Until last year, the transport body would manage 2,000 services during the festive season.
Balaji Samant, a Konkan-bound traveller, said, “Every year I visit Ratnagiri to celebrate Chaturthi with my family. Since tickets for private buses are expensive, I prefer ST buses. For me, reaching the destination is more important than comfort.”
Ticket price from Mumbai to Konkan
ST Rs 400-Rs 450
Private non-AC Rs 600-Rs 800
Private AC Rs 1,000-Rs 1,200