It’s a small step for Mangalore citizens, but a giant leap for Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC).
In its second day of operations in the city, the newly-launched KSRTC services received a lukewarm response.
A handful of people travelled in the 51K bus in the morning from KSRTC to Mudipu, while on the return, which coincided with the end of classes for a private college, commuters packed into the bus.
Similarly, buses to the airport and those coming back from Suratkal were seen running more than half empty.
“Not many people are coming on board, but compared to the launch two days ago, it has definitely picked up. Awareness about the services is increasing,” said the conductor of the bus to Mudipu. As the bus passed in front of schools and colleges in Deralakatte, he added that the introduction of a daily pass and more services would see students and teachers switching over to KSRTC.
M. Nagaraj said he wanted to travel by the bus to compare its services with those offered in other Tier II cities of the State.
“It will pick up soon after more buses are introduced and after a bus pass is introduced. This way, students and senior citizens will be benefitted,” he added.
While many on Monday travelled by the bus for the novelty of it, others, like Suresh from Mudipu, chose the bus for its empty passenger seats.
“People fall all over you in other [private] buses. Here, it is peaceful,” he said.
Surprisingly, a few conductors of private buses were spotted travelling in the bus, in an apparent bid to size-up the competition.
Having travelled only from Kankanady to Pumpwell Circle, a conductor said that while the new bus had good facilities, the number of commuters travelling by private buses was unlikely to reduce because of the poor frequency of KSRTC buses.
After boarding the bus from Mudipu to the city, Raviraj, a conductor of a private bus, was all praise for the quality of service.
“The bus is spacious and not cramped as private buses. Moreover, State buses always ensure that there is discipline in the carriage, and people don’t misbehave with each other. Another advantage is that the ticket is also Rs. 2 cheaper than private buses,” he said.
Asked if the introduction could hit the monopoly of private buses in the city, Mr. Raviraj said: “I don’t think so. Private buses offer services such as express buses that KSRTC will not offer. Also, since KSRTC does not ply from State Bank, many people may not use them.”