Spurt in cases of Omicron variant of the COVID-19 pandemic notwithstanding, people in large numbers are travelling to their hometowns to be with their family and friends during the Sankranti festivities.
Life seems to have returned to the Pandit Nehru Bus Station (PNBS), the main bus station of the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC), after it witnessed almost a deserted look for a prolonged period owing to the rising number of infections.
The virus scare has certainly had its impact on people’s preferences in their mode of transport. While the middle and the upper classes mostly choose to travel by private vehicles, the lower sections rely on the public transport.
Cashing in on the festival mood, the APSRTC is operating more than 6,000 special buses to cater to the commuting needs of the public. The corporation is running these buses before, during and after the festival.
The Private bus operators, who have been crying foul over the huge revenue losses incurred by them during the pandemic, are trying to make hay when the festival sun shines. Most operators have increased the bus ticket fares by almost 150 %. Ask them about the steep hike and they cite the case of APSRTC collecting additional charges in the special buses it is operating.
Sankranthi is the time for collective fun and people don’t mind spending extra money to be with their near and dear ones during the celebrations. “It is a win-win situation. They get the comfort they seek in the travel and we make some extra money during the season,” said a private bus operator.