People who reach the city late have to depend on auto rickshaws

The KSRTC’s delay in introducing night-service buses and the reluctance of private bus crew to operate at night have together resulted in hundreds of passengers getting stranded for hours at prominent junctions in the city.

People who reach the city late and have to reach destinations nearby are thus forced to depend on auto rickshaws and end up being fleeced by their drivers. Those who want to reach places in nearby districts wave down goods carriers that pass through the NH and hitch a ride.

As a result, there is an increasing demand that KSRTC or private buses ply circular trips through at least the main roads in the city every 30 minutes or so, after 8 p.m. In most cities, including Thiruvananthapuram, buses are available up to 10.30 pm or even later. The advantages include prompt running of services, since roads will be devoid of traffic snarls at night.

“It is high time night buses began service in Kochi. They will get adequate number of passengers once people come to know of the night services,” said Ernakulam RTO T.J. Thomas. He added that there will be sound patronage for the buses, if city services that ply after 8 p.m. are permitted to collect fares that are 50 per cent more than the regular fare.

The KSRTC has been dithering in beginning the services, despite the promise made over a year ago that a few Tirukochi buses would ply night service. “The proposal can be thought about, especially since we have sufficient number of drivers and conductors now,” said its Ernakulam zonal officer Sebastian Thomas. Eight more Thirukochi buses would join the current fleet of 70 buses and a few of them can be used for the purpose. Their feasibility too has to be looked into, he said.

But private bus operators are rather cold to the idea, citing the reluctance of bus crew to man the services. “We are finding it tough to retain the crew members of existing regular (day) services that are from about 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” said the general secretary of the Ernakulam District Private Bus Operators’ Association M.B. Satyan.

“As a result, we cannot operate around 10 per cent of the buses. Crew members are very particular about when the existing service begins and ends. They call the shots when it comes to their wages. The KSRTC can easily operate the night services since they have a shift system,” he said.

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