The stand off between online ticketing websites and state owned transport corporations have gotten a little messier. Online bus ticketing in Karnataka and possibly in other states are likely to go through a tough time in the coming days.
Around last month, the Karnataka State Transport Corporation stopped giving their inventory to redBus (the partnership was announced a year back). They are not going to work with other online ticket sellers either, a senior official told NextBigWhat.
Sources said that senior officials at the state run transport company felt that redBus and online ticketing companies were favoring private operators in their listings. While this claim couldn’t be independently verified, this seems to be one of the reason they’ve stopped working with online ticketing sites.
KSRTC used to get about 1,500- 2000 bookings a day from redBus. But its own website is now clocking over 15,000 bookings a day. Nearly 50% of tickets that are booked on KSRTC are now booked online, the source said.
The transport corporation is also planning to increase its digital marketing spend. An official said that online bus ticketing companies were leaning on the Ksrtc brand and advertising on Google against keywords like “Airavath” and “Ksrtc.”
“Online ticketing companies were whisking away customers who would have otherwise gone to KSRTC, which has its own website and app,” he said.
Lokayukta Gets Serious About Illegal Bus Ticketing
Meanwhile, private bus operators are in for more trouble for violating transport regulations. In Karnataka, a case has been filed with the Lokayukta, asking the government watchdog to make sure that private operators without legal permits must not be allowed to operate buses.
Majority of private buses operate on what is called a “contract carriage permit” which doesn’t let them sell individual tickets. For that you need a stage carriage permit, which the KSRTC has. According to a report, the Transport department in Karnataka has inspected 13,589 buses and has booked 585 cases for permit violations.
The department is waiting for Lokayukta’s directions.
In Andhra Pradesh, after a spate of accidents involving private buses, the government has made it nearly impossible for them to run without permits. This has shrunk the bus industry by a fifth in the state.
KSRTC Making Losses
The KSRTC has also been posting losses. In the year 2013-14, KSRTC made a loss of Rs 86.33 cr. Last year, it made a profit of Rs 1.74 cr. The move can be seen as an attempt to improve its revenues and profits.
Permits or no permits, the fact remains that the demand for transportation services far outstrips supply, especially on weekends.