Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan inaugurated the online reservation facility of State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) here on Wednesday.

The system facilitates booking of tickets for 188 bus services of the KSRTC through the Web site keralartconline.com using credit and debit cards. Booking using credit and debit cards could also be made through the online reservation counters of the Corporation at Thiruvananthapuram Central, Kottarakkara, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Kozhikode, Kannur and Bangalore (Majestic and Satellite) bus stations. Reservation is available for a few ordinary as well as air-conditioned and Volvo services. (The Web site shows booking facility only in one direction for some of the buses). Cancellations could also be made online.

There would be a transaction fee of Rs. 20 per ticket reserved online besides reservation charges. Cancellation charge would be 25 per cent of the ticket rate if cancelled 24 hours before departure. The refund would be only 50 per cent for cancellations made between one to twenty four hours prior to departure.

Speaking to the media after inauguration of the reservation system, Transport Minister Jose Thettayil said that the system runs from KSRTC’s own data centre using free software. The service including a help desk would be available day and night (24 hours).

The Minister said that the KSRTC would shortly implement Geographical Positioning System-based vehicle tracking services. The formalities for this were to be completed. The proposed courier service had not taken off because of poor response. The service would be re-tendered.

Mr. Thettayil said that a hike in bus fares was not under consideration of the Government. The demand of private bus operators for fare hike was not something that could be conceded at short notice. It called for policy decisions.

Asked about the protest by autorikshaw drivers against the newly introduced low floor city bus service to the airport here, the Minister said that the routes would not be changed because of the agitation. Care would be taken to ensure that the buses were kept clean.

He said that about 5000 drivers would be given training at the Institute of Drivers’ Training and Research to improve their driving skills. A training programme for tipper lorry drivers would start from November 29.