A Kochi-based NGO, Janapaksham, plans to run two private buses in Kochi in two months. It is to prove a point to the government that the bus services can be feasibly operated at a reasonable fare stage, said state convenor of Janapaksham Benny Joseph.

He said each bus was expected to cost Rs. 15 lakh of which Rs. 11 lakh will be raised as loan, which will be repaid in six years. The balance four lakh will be raised from the eight workers of each bus, who will have to contribute Rs. 50,000 per head. The eight workers will operate in two shifts, each shift having one conductor, one driver and two door checkers. The workers will get the ownership of the bus after the loan repayment tenure.

The bus will have a minimum fare of Rs. 5, which is one rupee less than the minimum fair fixed by the government. Passengers will be able to travel up to five stops or three kilometres by paying the minimum.

They need to pay just 50 paisa for every additional bus stop. Numerous organizations and film actors, directors, social workers etc. have promised to support the bus service. Talks were held with the BMS union here on Wednesday, Mr. Joseph said.

He said the existing private bus services were making a profit of Rs 3000 to Rs 4000 per day. “We expect to have a nominal profit of Rs. 500 per day.” Another attractive feature of the bus service is that 30 to 40 per cent of the seat will be reserved for school students during school timings.

The account of the bus service will be open for public audit. The buses will not over speed or cancel trips. A monitoring committee comprising retired civil servant P. C. Cyriac, senior journalist K M Roy, Father Roby Kannanchira of Chavara Cultural Centre and a team of advocates.

Mr. Joseph alleged that many of the private buses in the city are owned by police officers and criminals.

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