Increased patronage during summer boosts MTC's revenue; commuters ask for more buses
On Friday afternoon, 60-year-old B. Venkata Krishnan hopped on to an MTC bus at Mylapore to visit his daughter in Pallavaram. At Mandaveli, he got off and ran into an air-conditioned bus that followed close behind. Mopping his brow, a relieved Krishnan took out tenors from his wallet as the conductor approached.
An increased patronage by commuters like Krishnan has increased the revenue generated by MTC's fleet of AC buses this summer.
Last month, the transport corporation earned Rs. 4.3 crore from ticket sales in its AC buses. This is a 29% jump from the earnings in March last year, MTC officials said.
“During summer, commuters prefer to travel in AC buses even if there isn't any place to sit,” said a senior MTC official.
MTC operates about 100 AC buses, with each making 10 trips in the city every day. The fare ranges from Rs. 15 to Rs. 75.
“We have AC buses going to Kancheepuram and Mahabalipuram as well. A one-way journey to Kancheepuram will cost you Rs. 75,” the official said.
Revenue collection from these buses has increased over the months. In December, the total collection was Rs. 3.7 crore, a 12.5% increase over the earnings during the same month last year.
In January, the collection was nearly Rs. 3.8 crore, a 14.5% increase, and in February it was Rs 3.9 crore, a 27% jump from last year.
MTC officials said routes on East Coast Road and Old Mahabalipuram Road enjoyed most patronage. AC buses are a great way to beat the blazing sun, said office-goers.
“I prefer taking the AC bus to work every day. On days, when I miss it and end up travelling in an ordinary bus, I reach office drenched in sweat. MTC should increase the number and frequency of AC buses,” said S. Jayalakshmi, a resident of Guindy.
Officials say this is in the hands of the State Government. “An AC bus costs over Rs 80 lakh. We earn a revenue of around Rs 12,000 per day and during summer, it goes up. The rest of the year, there is a lull. But we continue to operate the buses as we do not want the vehicles to remain idle,” the official said.
The popularity of the buses comes with its own set of problems.
“When the bus gets overcrowded, the effect of the air-conditioning is drastically reduced. What is the point of charging a higher fare? Officials must find a way to address this problem,” said T. Ravikumar, president, All India Rail and Bus Passengers' Welfare Association.