Two bus tickets become viral on social media the next day after the announcement of a petrol tax cut of Rs.3 during the TN government’s revised budget presentation on 13th August.
It can be seen from the viral pictures that the passenger was provided with a ticket worth Rs.7 on August 13 to travel from Sepalanatham to Oomangalam. But he has been provided with a ticket worth Rs.10 to travel on the same route the next day. He took the same bus numbered TN32N4251 both days. But the ticket dated 13th August says normal bus Rs.7, and 14th August ticket says express bus Rs.10.
We were asked to check the authenticity of the claim that the bus fare has been raised by 3 rupees to offset petrol tax cuts.
We found no announcements on the rise in bus fares after DMK comes to power or after the petrol tax cuts. There were also no reports of indirect raises in bus fares after petrol tax cuts.
Since the viral tickets belong to Virudhachalam branch buses, we spoke to the TNSTC Virudhachalam branch manager, “It was a mistake by the conductor. The bus was not changed from normal to express bus. He might have done it because of laziness or to prevent himself from providing the change in return, we do not know the exact reason. On the date of the incident, he chose the express bus instead of the normal bus while selecting route number 219. All ticket machines contain all the route numbers that come under that particular branch. It is the responsibility of the conductor to choose the route allotted to him. They have also been trained on using the ticket vending machines. He has been suspended after he has accepted his mistake. This has not happened in any other buses except this one”, said the manager.
We spoke to Mani, Retired Conductor, TNSTC to confirm if they have an option to change from normal bus to express bus. He said, “When the route number is selected from the machine, all the available options for that specific route will be displayed. The conductor can change the options say from normal bus to express bus. But we will be informed by the Company on which option to go with. And we should abide by it and we have no rights to decide it by ourselves”.
When we spoke to an employee from the Virudhachalam branch, “the fare for normal bus from Virudhachalam to Cuddalore route is Rs.7 and is Rs.10 for the express bus. The conductor on that day has provided tickets worth Rs.7 for around 120 to 150 passengers. He has provided the express bus ticket costing Rs.10 due to manual error for a few of the passengers which were not intentional. However, he has been suspended for his mistake, and the Administrative Director has informed him that he will be transferred. And this happened in that bus alone. We were always informed by our officials that no passengers should face any inconveniences”, he reported.
A government bus conductor who works in the bus operating under the Virudhachalam branch has changed the option by mistake to express bus instead of the normal bus and hence has collected the express bus fare from the passenger. Nevertheless, the social media posts claiming that the bus fare is increased to offset the petrol tax cuts is not true. The conductor also has been suspended for his mistake.