Nine new non-air-conditioned low-floor buses of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation that would operate in city routes would be launched here on Friday by Transport Minister Jose Thettayil.

The buses, manufactured by Ashok Leyland, conform to the specifications laid down by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

They have air suspension and are designed for easy boarding and getting down. The doors are wide enough and people can board and alight from the bus at the same time, thus reducing the waiting time at bus stops. Their low platforms, like in the RTC's 13 Volvo buses currently operating in the city, enable aged and physically-challenged people to get in with ease.

There are 40 seats and special handles have been provided for passengers. All the buses would commute through the Ernakulam Boat Jetty-Menaka route, where commuter movement is high. Three of them would ply in the Chottanikkara-Vytilla-Aluva route, three in the Panangad-Vytilla-Aluva route and the other three in the Njarakkal-Vytilla-Poothotta route.

The RTC's Zonal Officer G. Jayaraj said that the RTC's land at Thevara and Karikkamury are being tidied, taking into account the parking requirements for the total of 50 AC, 120 non-AC low-floor and 30 mini buses that would be purchased under the JNNURM scheme for Kochi. “The agency has four acres in Thevara and 3.5 acres at Karikkamury, near the RTC's main bus stand here, a portion of which has been levelled and surfaced with metal.”

Meanwhile, the introduction of the RTC's city buses in Kochi is facing delays thanks to the acute shortage of drivers.

The Ernakulam RTO office has reserved 50 permits for the KSRTC for the purpose. The agency's MD, T.P. Senkumar, said that driver recruitment has been held up because it can be done only through the Public Service Commission.

“The RTCs in neighbouring States do the recruitments directly, as soon as need arises. The operation of around 70 daily schedules has been hampered because of the delay in appointing drivers. As such, we are finding it tough even to spare drivers for buses purchased under the JNNURM.”

The RTC had planned to introduce city buses in Kochi in April. Bus-body building too is held up because of the delay in getting steel from a State government agency.

Keywords: Urban Transport

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