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After seeing through a tough situation during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chittoor region of the APSRTC is pinning its hopes on maximising Dasara collections by deploying 278 special services, targeting commuters from Vijayawada, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai. Officials are hopeful that the Dasara demand would last till the third week of October.

Software engineers and a professional workforce from Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai make up a large chunk of the passengers for the region, followed by government staff and their families from Vijayawada and other places from Nellore to Srikakulam.

Due to exorbitant fares charged by private bus operators, passengers on Dasara vacation to Chittoor district from neighboring States prefer the APSRTC. Last year, the Dasara vacations hardly saw any rush as most people were working from home and travellers stayed away fearing the COVID-19 pandemic. The Railways too operated limited specials last year during the season. This year, the COVID threat perception is low, and the feared Vinayaka Chavithi surge did not have much of an impact.

“Now, a majority of the public wants to travel and enjoy the Dasara vacation,” said a senior conductor named Madhusudhan in Tirupati.

Though the APSRTC announced a 50% hike on tickets for the special services, the private operators are still waiting for the opportunity to fleece the customers. “I wanted to book a ticket to Madanapalle from Hyderabad for October 12. A couple of operators charged double the fare, while many others informed me to approach them on October 11, besides demanding an advance payment. The operators are not willing to take advance amounts through apps, but want direct cash to avoid any inspections or enquiries by officials. Finally, I got a ticket through APSRTC for the normal fare,” said Dhananjay Reddy, a software engineer from Hyderabad.

Deputy Chief Traffic Manager (APSRTC–Chittoor) M. Bhaskar said that the corporation had not increased the ticket prices in recent years, compared to uncertain pricing by the private sector. “We have made our stand very clear. Except for the special services with 50% hike in tariff, all the other regular services would be charging normal fare. With COVID pandemic under control, APSRTC will be the first priority of the public during this Dasara vacation,” he said.