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Andhra Pradesh Transport Department decided to clamp down on private bus operators in Andhra Pradesh who were running their operations without the required documents a few days back and Times Of India carried a report, incorrectly stating that online bus ticket booking has been banned in Andhra Pradesh. The government of Andhra Pradesh, following an accident in which 45 people died after the fuel tank of a luxury bus caught fire in Mahbubnagar district of the state, has acted against all private players who were running their service without permits.

However, one can still book tickets to and from Hyderabad by operators such as Kallada, Paulo, SVR, Jabbar and KSRTC (government owned) from RedBus and AbhiBus. APSRTC tickets are available only from their official website. It’s just that 90% of private bus operators in the state, who were operating without required permits or did not pass safety tests, have pulled their fleet, because of which their tickets are not available, offline as well as online. MediaNama checked a Kallada agent in Calicut, who said that they have the permits for running bus services in Andhra Pradesh, and they’re continuing with their services.

However, the question still remains: Why were online ticketing sites selling tickets of bus services that did not have the permit? Why were these bus operators allowed to operate without permits by the government, before the mishap?

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A senior executive at the Naspers-owned Redbus.in, who did not want to be identified, had told the newspaper that the impact could be about 30%, while Sudhakar Reddy Chirra, founder and chief executive officer of Abhibus.com, which reported Rs 140 crore of business last fiscal, said that business at his firm was down by a fifth. Andhra Pradesh accounts for a fifth of the private bus market, which currently is at about Rs 15,000 crore.

Frankly, the numbers signify that there is a lot of demand for private buses in the state so these players should get their papers before raising a hue and cry about the government’s decision.

What online bus ticketing site should do

– Stop playing the victim card. The only real victims here are the passengers.

– Pay due diligence to permits and list only those operators who have all the documents in order.

Update: Sachin Bhardwaj pointed out that a third party cannot ask an operator to show the permits, only government can. Third party websites such as Red Bus can only ask operator to follow the laws when they sign up for the service.

-Pay more attention to the transport laws in each state, other states will also be raising similar questions sooner or later.

What Andhra Pradesh government should do now

– Issue more permits to private operators so that the public don’t suffer for long.

– Also make it clear what all documents these bus agencies need to have to operate such a service.

– Inform websites such as RedBus and Abhibus which all bus agencies they can list and which all they should not list.