This long weekend was perfect for many Mumbaikars who went holidaying; however, not that promising for private bus and tourist car operators. Although they expected good bookings, they could book only 60-65 percent travellers unlike their expectations of crossing the 90 percent mark.
There are nearly 15,000 tourist cabs and 3,500 intercity buses that ply on the roads, of which still 35-40 percent weren’t booked for this long weekend.
The primary reason for the weak demand has been the rising fuel prices (petrol, diesel, and CNG) in the last few days. The tariffs for intercity buses have gone up by at least 20-22 percent for all routes, while the per-kilometer rate for AC cars varied from Rs 15 to Rs 18 per kilometer depending on the type and model of the car, which again has increased. As a result, the ticket price for the Mumbai-Pune AC bus was Rs 350-400, increased by Rs 75-100.
“There is the movement of tourists leaving the city but it is only in private cars. Due to the hike in fuel prices, our cost of operations has gone up and so we were forced to increase the tariffs,” said Malik Patel, the secretary of the Federation of Tourist Taxi Operators. Bus operators claimed that it’s not just the fuel price which has increased but other ancillaries as well. “The prices of oil, tyres and manpower, too, have risen apart from fuel. Fuel is 60 percent of our operational costs,” said Harsh Kotak, member, Mumbai Bus Malak Sanghatana.
A bus operator KV Shetty claimed that business is slowly improving but it hasn’t seen that spike for this long weekend. Some of the routes starting from Mumbai, where the intercity buses and National Permit tourist taxis are plying are Mahabaleshwar, Shirdi, Alibaug, Goa, Nashik, Ganpatiphule and Pune.