Chennai: With the holiday season witnessing an unusual surge in bus travellers to neighbouring states, travel agencies complain that a couple of private bus operators are hiking ticket prices to exorbitant levels. A travel agent based at Egmore says that for the last five days certain private travel operators have increased prices by 35 to 40 percent. “Three private operators who are running their services to Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi have charged Rs 2,100 and Rs 2,200 for sleeper tickets for passengers who have booked tickets online,” said a travel agent based in Kennet Lane, Egmore. He also said this is done with the knowledge of the online tour operators with whom these travel agents share a commission. “There are a few bus operators based at Koyambedu who have been meddling in between and making large profits,” he cautioned. However, State Express Transport Corporation (SETC) officials, when contacted, maintained that they are already aware of this and have advised the operators concerned on this hike when the booking season started a week ago. “From December 22 to 24, we have run 94 special services apart from the regular 512 services that are operating daily. We will continue this until December 31 as we are employing more buses for Sabarimala pilgrimage also,” said an officer at SETC, Ambattur.Meanwhile, according to the latest online ticketing data available on ‘Redbus.in’ and ‘Ticket Goose’, two online ticket operators, all private operators have increased the fares by a minimal sum.“We have raised the price by `200 for the last two days to the fifty services we offer to different cities of the neighbouring states. We have mentioned this change on our website too,” said the owner of a bus operator that is operating to different parts of Kerala.“There are days when we operate services to Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram with 10 and 15 passengers with rest of the seats unfilled. It is the festival season such as Christmas, Pongal and Deepavali that we get a major share of passengers. According to the demand we have decided on a minimal increase on each ticket,” he maintained. However, on Thursday, all online tickets to destinations like Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Madurai, Kanyakumari and parts of southern TN have been sold out.