MTC’s fleet of 3,600 buses consumes over two lakh litres of diesel everyday

The next time you travel by an MTC bus, don’t be surprised if the commute includes a brief halt at a retail fuel outlet.

With the State government advising transport corporations to fill diesel at pumps, where subsidised diesel is still available, commuters may have to brace for a slightly longer journey.

On Friday, Metropolitan Transport Corporation, whose fleet of 3,600 buses runs for over nine lakh km per day, asked its drivers and conductors to purchase diesel from retail bunks near depots.

This comes in the wake of the Centre’s decision last week to introduce dual pricing for diesel under which bulk consumers such as state transport corporations would not be supplied subsidised fuel.

As a corollary, MTC would have to purchase diesel at nearly Rs. 60 per litre, whereas the same fuel is available at retail outlets for Rs. 50.68.

“Being bulk consumers, we were earlier offered a discount. But now, we will end up paying Rs. 10 more. Hence, we made the decision to approach retail pumps to buy diesel at a lesser price,” an MTC official said.

The hike in prices came even as MTC was wondering how to manage mounting expenses. “It is not easy to pass on the burden to commuters every time,” he said.

On an average, a bus gives a mileage of 4.5 km per litre. Every day, MTC buses consume over two lakh litres of diesel.

According to an official, the payment for diesel purchased from retail fuel outlets will be done on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.

“It may be done on a daily basis. We are working out the payment mode. In a week’s time, everything will be decided upon,” the official said.

However, a drivers’ union member said they received information that payment would be made by the respective branch managers the next day.

According to commuters, this could lead to corruption and cause inconvenience to other motorists at fuel bunks.

“Imagine a bus coming into the bunk when there are other vehicles waiting. It will be chaotic,” said S. Pugazhendi, who commutes by 27D regularly.

MTC officials said they would try to prevent such situations. “We are trying to work out the time when the buses can be sent for filling diesel. It could be early in the morning or the previous night itself so that other motorists are not put to hardship,” said the official.

Trade union representatives too warned that such a practice could lead to corruption at some point.

“The drivers and bunk staff may form a nexus and cheat on the volume of diesel filled. This should be monitored properly by MTC officials,” said a member.

A senior official of Indian Oil Corporation said the oil companies would be in a position to meet the demand of transport corporations.

There are bound to be issues with regard to crowding at petrol pumps, but they can be managed, the official said.

There would be more clarity on the issue in the following days, he said.

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