Mumbai: With the Christmas and New year just around the corner, luxury bus fares have soared to nearly Rs 2,500 for Mumbai to Goa, adding to the woes of common people. Despite the hike in ticket price nearly 70 percent seats are full for the travel between December 24, 2022 and January 1, 2023. However, bus operators say it is one-way traffic.
“Goa tops the list of a few selected tourist spots in demand, followed by Daman, Silvassa, Lonavala-Khandala, Mahabaleshwar among other places where people have booked trips with family for a short stay during Christmas and new year celebration,” said a city travel agent of the city.
Not just buses but most trains are also fully booked. Most trains running between Mumbai and Goa including Jan Shatabdi Express, Konkan Kanya Express and Tejas Express are booked to capacity for December 28.
According to Harsh Kotak, general secretary of Bus Owners Associations, currently around 1,800 private buses are being operated from MMR connecting to prominent cities of Maharashtra as well as neighbouring states. Of these, 70 percent seats are already booked for the travel between December 24, 2022 to January 1, 2023.
“Last year on the occasion of Christmas and new year only 1,200 buses were operated by private tour operators, keeping in mind the huge demand this year, we are operating more buses,” Kotak stated.
“Currently the ticket price of luxury bus services from Mumbai to Goa is around Rs 1,600, but in the last week of December it is to likely go up to Rs 3,000,” said a private bus owner adding that for the travel between December 24 to 31 from Mumbai to Goa most of his bus seats are sold out, return tickets, however, remain unsold.
Another owner lamented about the operating cost. “We generally get only one-way booking during the festive season, hence we are forced to increase the fare but we always do it only up to the permissible limit,” he said. The permissible limit, he informed, is 1.5 times the rate of MSRTC (Maharashtra State Transport Corporation) luxury bus services.
Special trains needed
The owners sought operation of special trains services between Mumbai and Goa for the Christmas and new year travellers and also appropriate action against rule violators.
“State transport departments need to start a special drive in the last week of December to check the overcharging by private bus operators,” said Edwin Fernandes (45) a Dombivali resident, who had to shell out nearly Rs 10,000 for booking four tickets from Thane to Goa for December 24.
Thane resident Johnny Joseph (35) said, “We could not get confirmed tickets for any train. Travel agents are demanding Rs 2,500 to Rs 2,600 per ticket for a December 24 Mumbai to Goa ticket. We are now waiting for the Railways to announce special trains.”