Corporation plans to convert them into Garuda Plus buses by replacing 24 berths with 36 seats in each bus

APSRTC is planning to convert its fleet of 15 Vennela Sleeper luxury buses into conventional Garuda Plus buses by replacing 24 berths with 36 seats in each bus, following poor seat occupancy in the buses.

RTC had launched Vennela sleeper services last year and is presently operating these services on Hyderabad-Bangalore, Hyderabad-Vijayawada, Hyderabad-Chennai and other routes.

Except for buses on the Hyderabad-Vijayawada route, the seat occupancy ratio in these buses is a mere 50 per cent against the break-even mark of 65 per cent. Already, the Corporation is suffering huge losses due to many factors, including rise in operational costs etc. and it is high time they give it some thought, says a senior official.

“It’s been close to one year since these buses were launched and RTC suffered nearly Rs.2 crore loss due to poor seat occupancy,” concedes the official. However, the move to convert Vennela buses into Garuda Plus buses is not finding favour with a few higher officials and passengers. Ticket cost is one of the key factors for poor seat occupancy ratio as the fare in these buses is too high when compared to AC fares in a train and the private sleeper bus fare.

For instance, the fare in a RTC Hyderabad-Vijayawada Vennela bus is nearly Rs.650 per person while private bus operators charge sabout Rs.550 depending on the demand. “Given the difference in fares, passengers will prefer to travel in private buses rather than Vennela buses. If RTC wants to improve seat occupancy in these buses then it should reduce the fares in these buses,” suggests J.S.T. Sayi, a regular traveller. This apart, it will cost about Rs. 3 lakh to convert one Vennela bus into Garuda Plus bus.