The festival rush during Holi also led to overcharging by private bus operators, while the MSRTC strike is still unresolved. Thus the Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) headed by the Transport Department, conducted a 5-day drive from March 16-20 across Maharashtra. During this drive, which was namely meant to catch private buses and their operators for over-charging passengers, they checked 6610 buses across the state.
This included 3724 buses in Mumbai and its Metropolitan Region covering RTO offices from Tardeo, Wadala, Andheri, Thane and Panvel. According to figures obtained from the Transport Department, there were 1521 cases or 23 percent of total vehicles inspected where they were detected of flouting various offences. The RTOs collected Rs 22.19 lakh as fines from these buses.
Out of these there were 103 cases of private buses and their operators overcharging fares from passengers. “We received complaints from passengers that the private bus operators were charging them more fares than usual. It is generally found that during festival seasons, the private bus operators charge higher fares than prescribed for the route. So we took out this drive against this practice where other flaws in the vehicle were also touched upon,” said a RTO officer on condition of anonymity.
There were 1418 cases that included other offences like vehicle not having PUC, unfit condition to ply, having an inadequate documents, broken headlight and/or tail light etc among other faults detected during the checks. “There is a need to come up with a proper route wise fare chart for private bus operators as well. After not running for almost 2 years in this pandemic, the buses are slowly getting back on the road, but the RTOs are catching minor flaws in buses which is wrong,” said a bus operator.
In Mumbai, Tardeo RTO checked 143 vehicles, Andheri RTO checked 421 vehicles, Wadala RTO checked 160 vehicles, Thane and Panvel checked 1768 and 1232 vehicles respectively.