Bus companies have increased fares from Nairobi to various parts of the country by up to 100 percent as the December rush nears its peak.
The rise in fares, just four days to Christmas, come on the back of increased demand for long-distance travel to destinations such as Kitale, Kakamega, Kisumu and Mombasa.
A spot check by the Business Daily established bus firms such as Easy Coach were fully booked up to December 26 with the recent suspension of Modern Coast buses adding to the woes of passengers.
An official at Climax Bus Company, who spoke to Business Daily in confidence, said fares for passengers heading to Busia and Kisumu from Nairobi had doubled from Sh1,000 to Sh2,000.
The company is also charging passengers Sh1,600 to ferry them to Bungoma and Kitale from Nairobi up from Sh1,000 — a 60 per cent increment.
“The demand for passengers plying various upcountry route is very high. As you can see, there are a few buses yet we have a good number of passengers. It is the reason why bus companies are raising fares,” he said.
Other operators said the increase is meant to cover the cost of returning near-empty vehicles. However, the Business Daily witnessed most of the buses coming back to the city with passengers.
At Eldoret Express, the situation was not different. Hundreds of passengers thronged their booking offices only to find that the buses are fully occupied.
A ticket for passengers heading to Butere, Kakamega, Bungoma and Kimilili was going at Sh1,600 up from Sh800.
Green Line Bus Company, which also ferries passengers on the same route, had increased its fares, forcing some passengers to shelve their travel plans.
The firm was charging passengers travelling to Kitale, Bungoma and Lwakhakha from Nairobi Sh1,800 up from 800.
But at Easy Coach, which plies routes such as Busia, Kisumu, Mumias, Siaya and Sirare among others, the buses were fully booked until December 24.
Chief Executive Azym Dossa said the firm, which charges an average fare of Sh800 to Sh1,500 does not plan to raise the fares.
“We are not in the business of robbing Kenyans. We are operating on fixed fare prices, which we do not intend to increase anytime soon,” he said.
The Guardian Bus Service, which operates routes including Kisumu, Mbale, Kakamega, Nakuru and Kericho, also says it is not planning to increase fares during the festive season.