Bus drivers of RTCs find refuelling at retail outlets consumes more time, energy and tests their patience

Waiting impatiently for a couple of hours on the road, the driver of a KSRTC bus heaved a sigh of relief after parking his bus in the refuelling bay at a fuel outlet on Mysore Road on Tuesday morning.

Road Transport Corporations (RTCs) in the State are now buying diesel from retail outlets to save Rs. 12 a litre over the fuel available for bulk consumers from oil marketing companies’ depots.

The Union Petroleum Ministry decided to hike diesel price for bulk consumers by over Rs. 11 a litre from January 18.

Driver Nagaraj (name changed), said there was a marked difference in refuelling at the fuel outlets when compared to the depot.

“I have come back from a casual contract trip this morning. I have to start on another trip at 3 p.m. Let alone taking rest, I can’t even visit my family, who I haven’t seen for two days,” he said.

Drivers of the four State RTCs — the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), North West KRTC and North East KRTC — are equally worried about maintaining punctuality in operations and losing business to private operators.

“Passengers will become impatient even if there is a delay of 30 minutes in the normal course. Refuelling at retail outlets is consuming more time and delaying departures. We’ll particularly be affected in the casual contract services (for tours) where there is stiff competition from private operators,” driver Ninganna (name changed), told The Hindu.

Specific outlets

The four RTCs have identified specific retail outlets for refuelling and have deputed personnel, including a mechanical supervisor and RTC fuel pump operators to monitor refuelling. The bills are raised, signed by the driver concerned and entered into the register.

Cheque payments are made the next day, explained Puttaswamy, a mechanical supervisor stationed at a Rajarajeshwari fuelling station on Mysore Road. Another supervising KSRTC staff said they have to work overtime, from early morning till late into the night.

M. Thyagaraj, proprietor of the fuel station, said the normal sale of about 2,000 litres of diesel a day has shot up to over 22,000 litres after the KSRTC began refuelling at his fuel pump. He feared losing regular individual customers as many KSRTC buses wait in long queues in front of the fuel pump.

KSRTC Managing Director N. Manjunatha Prasad, however, said the delay in refuelling and inconvenience to individual consumers was minimal. “We have advised our depots to get fuel on the outskirts of Bangalore without disturbing others,” he said.

Letter

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and Minister for Transport R. Ashok have written to the Centre demanding a roll back on diesel prices ahead of the scheduled meeting of public sector oil marketing companies with the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas on Wednesday.

Drawing the Centre’s attention to the public service rendered by the RTCs, they said if the prices are not rolled back, the very purpose of forming RTCs to provide economic transport service would get defeated.

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