The introduction of a city bus service by the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation may not happen in the next two years.

Deputy Commissioner and Chairman of the Regional Transport Authority V. Ponnuraj told presspersons here on Saturday that permitting KSRTC buses to ply between Surathkal and Talapady might add to traffic congestion on the National Highway 17.

According to him, the widening of Kundapur-Talapady stretch of the national highway is expected to begin in a couple of months. Once the four-laning work begins, only half of the existing road will be available for vehicle movement. Consequently, there may be many bottlenecks, particularly near the Ullal bridge and Baikampady. Hence, the RTA is not in favour of allowing more buses on the stretch. The widening may take up to two years.

However, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is studying the traffic scenario. This, and the data to be made available by the Comprehensive Traffic and Transport Plan (CTTP) report in a few months, will be studied before taking a final decision in this regard.

The people here have been eagerly waiting for the introduction of city services by the KSRTC, particularly after Transport Minister R. Ashok made an announcement in this regard about a year ago. Officials of the Mangalore division of the KSRTC have gone on record that they are ready to operate city services as soon as the RTA allows it.

Earlier, Mr. Ponnuraj chaired the RTA meeting in which about 50 appeals against the cancellation of licences to operate buses were discussed.

Mr. Ponnuraj told presspersons that about 600 persons had obtained licences to operate buses in the city in the last 20 years but had not even collected the schedules of operation from the authority, let alone introducing the bus services. Hence these licences had been cancelled. About 170 of them had appealed against this decision. The State Transport Authority had objected to combining of different cases and had asked the RTA to hear the licence-holders individually, he said.

Many persons had obtained the licences only to ensure that nobody else obtained them for a particular route.

Only such licences had been cancelled, he said.

Mr. Ponnuraj said that licences would henceforth be issued with a condition that they should introduce buses within a month, failing which their licences would automatically lapse. The advocates of different licence-holders agreed to this.

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