In anticipation of the heavy passenger load expected ahead of Diwali, the Surat State Transport Department will ply 1,200 buses from Surat to various districts in Saurashtra from October 22 to October 27. The department has also decided to waive the 25 per cent extra fare usually charged for the Diwali-special buses.
Last year, over 1,000 extra buses had made tours to various destinations in Saurashtra from Surat. As many as 8 lakh migrant workers, particularly in the diamond cutting and polishing industry as well as textile trading in Surat, hail from Saurashtra, and most of them go home for Diwali. The number of special buses has been increased by 200 this time.
“The diamond industry vacations start from October 22 and last more than 20 days. Some factories have15 days’ vacation,” Surat Diamond Association president Babubhai Katheriya said. “There are over 5 lakh diamond polishers settled in Surat but their relatives and family members live in their native place. During these days after October 22, they go to their native place and celebrate Diwali and return to Surat once the vacation period is over.”
Earlier the passengers had to pay 25 per cent more than regular fare for the extra buses from Surat to Saurashtra. This year, the transport department will also ply 100 extra buses from Surat to various districts in the neighbouring state of Maharashtra during the five-day period, Divisional Controller of Surat State Transport department Sanjay Joshi said.
“The fares of State Transport (ST) buses are cheaper than of private luxury buses operators. ST buses from Surat to Amreli charge Rs 230 while private luxury buses charge Rs 700 per person,” Joshi said. “This year, the government has waived the 25 per cent extra fare. The reason for extra charges was that buses used to come back empty from Saurashtra.”
The transport official said the department has also got a good response for a facility called ST apna dware (ST bus at your doorstep). “This year during Diwali we have got booking for 150 buses,” he said.
Explaining how it works, he said, “Under this scheme if there are over 51 passengers and they want to go to certain fixed village, the bus will pick up passengers assembled at a single location in Surat and drop them at the fixed destination.”