Kumar Rajiv Nayan
Ara: Passengers of Bihar State Road Transport Corporation Limited (BSRTCL) are a harried lot as the counter clerks realize fares arbitrarily from them in the absence of fare list. Altogether 30 buses of BSRTCL ply from Ara to Patna, Ara to Sasaram, Ara to Buxar and Ara to Bhabua every day and at least 500 to 1,000 passengers travels in these buses daily. But in absence of any fare list, the counter clerks and conductors realized fares from the passengers arbitrarily.
Despite the order of the government and transport department fare list has not been pasted at the bus stand or in any bus. Passengers are not aware of fares for any place in the absence of fare list. The Motor Vehicle Act says that a list of fares with distance of important places is must for the bus to get permit for those places. The daily passengers know the fares and so the conductors or clerks dare not to ask for excess fares from them but the occasional passengers are exploited. Counter clerks realize Rs 70 from a passenger for Ara to Patna journey instead of Rs 58 printed on the ticket and if any one boards a bus in haste, he or she has to part with Rs 100 instead of Rs 58. When a passenger demands receipt of the fare, the conductors or the clerks say it has exhausted.
Altogether 30 buses ply from Ara to Piro, Bikramganj, Nokha, Sasaram, Chenari, Kudara, Patna, Sonbarsa, Maliabag, Kochas, Parasathua, Mohania, Bhabua, Bihia, Raghunathpur, Dumrao and Buxar daily. No no train facility is available even today for Sonbarsa, Maliabag, Jagdishpur and Mohania hence the passengers have to travel by bus to these places. Though private buses and small vehicle also run on these routes but the government buses are considered cheapest and so the passengers prefer them. Whenever a passenger objects to collection of excess amount, the clerks and conductors argue that the fare had been increased due to hike in prices of petrol and diesel.
Besides, the conductors and drivers never follow dress code. As per the Motor Vehicle Act, a driver and a conductor of a bus have to wear khanki pants and khaki half shirt with two pockets and has to keep a towel with them. The driver should have driving license and a batch on his shirt with his name and address and driving license code inscribed on it. In absence of dress code, it is difficult to know who is driving the bus.
Surendra Prasad, a businessman, said that he frequently visits Sasaram, Kudara, Bhabha, Bikramganj and Patna but the counter clerks and conductors realize fares. Naval Kishore of Sadisopur said he has to come to Ara daily but have to pay different fare every time. A passenger Avinash Kumar said that he was going to Mudeshwari Mata temple with his wife but the conductor realized excess fares from him and when he inquired about it he got rude. He said he would complain to the Bhojpur DM.