Commuters give RTC buses the thumbs down
Why do long-distance commuters continue to prefer private buses over the state-run APSRTC? Well, for starters, private buses outnumber APSRTC ones, especially the air-conditioned sort. Moreover, the convenience of boarding buses near their homes, late-night services and multiple halts tilt the balance in favour of private operators.
This despite the Transport Department seizing private buses every day and also forcing commuters to disembark from them – even at midnight and in remote places – because they are run like stage-carriers, selling individual seats against the law.
The APSRTC operates about 200 AC (Garuda and Garuda Plus), Indra and sleeper buses every day from the capital to different destinations across the State while private operators run close 350 such buses. The fact is that RTC is simply unable to meet the demand for more AC buses that offer a more comfortable journey to passengers.
Each AC bus costs over Rs.1 crore and the RTC needs another 200 of them if it has to beat the competition from private operators.
“It is not financially viable as there is no guarantee that passengers will book RTC tickets,” a senior RTC official argues.
And tickets for the RTC AC buses need to be booked in advance as the demand is high and the buses are not many.
Private operators, meanwhile, run AC buses not only to major places like Vijayawada, Rajahmundry, etc., but also to tier-II towns like Bapatla, Gudivada and the like too.
“This is where the difference lies,” says J.S.T Sayi, a regular commuter.
Convenience is another major factor as private operators run buses till late in the night, besides facilitating the service of boarding buses at multiple points, including those nearby residential colonies. They also halt buses at multiple points for passengers to alight, though a few RTC drivers do halt at requested places though stop at bus stations, he adds. One is forced to hire an auto-rickshaw to his home from bus station.
For employees and businessmen who prefer to board buses after work, private operators provide better service.
“Speed, though it can be dangerous at times, is beneficial if we reach our destination a couple of hours early. Though RTC operates a few buses late in the night, availability of seats is always a worry,” points out J. Narsimha Rao, another passenger.
There are also complaints about lack of cleanliness and the ambience in RTC buses while there is an attendant to help passengers with their luggage in private carriages. Such is the negative opinion among some commuters that Transport Department officials were puzzled to note that passengers were hesitant to board RTC buses even when private buses were seized.
“These days’ passengers are willing to spend and are demanding better service. In this regard, private operators definitely have an edge over RTC,” a senior Transport Department official said.
Matters have come to such a point that commuters would rather cancel their trips