The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) is going ahead with its fleet augmentation programme despite the financial crisis it found itself in after being tagged as a bulk consumer of high speed diesel.
The severe financial crisis and the inability to pay pension to the retired staff has not prevented the cash-strapped corporation from proceeding with the fleet augmentation programme that aims at replacing the old buses. The KSRTC has managed a loan of Rs. 50 crore from the Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd (HUDCO) for the purchase of 325 chassis.
The KSRTC has already received 170 chassis out of the 325 chassis and the body building works have commenced in the units across the State, a top KSRTC official told The Hindu. The chassis will be purchased on a 60:40 ratio from the two leading firms from which the corporation procures it. The new buses will be used to replace the old Fast Passenger buses of the corporation.
The buses are part of the fleet augmentation programme chalked out to introduce 1,000 buses. The KSRTC has already inducted 625 buses into the fleet under this programme. The remaining 50 buses to the inducted will be used for replacing the Super Deluxe buses in the fleet.
The government, while endorsing the proposal of the loan, has stated that it will not bear any liability of the loan taken by the KSRTC from HUDCO now and in future. The corporation has to repay the loan through escrow mechanism and the tenure of the loan is 10 to 15 years.
For security, the new immovable property at Mananthavady village in Wayanad district has been given as mortgage along with extension of mortgage of properties of KSRTC. Hypothecation of the proposed new buses with comprehensive insurance coverage is part of the security package.
The decision to go ahead with the fleet augmentation has come at a time when the Economic Review 2012 has pointed out that 89 per cent of the passenger transport operations was with the private operators and only 11 per cent was with KSRTC.
Though the total number of stage carriers in the State was 46,620, the KSRTC had only 5,803 buses. Out of the 5,803 buses, 1,672 buses are aged above 10 years. The official said the KSRTC has 5,829 buses in the fleet as on date and that it is operating 5,567 schedules daily. The corporation manages another 329 buses received under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM), a massive city-modernisation scheme of the Union government.
The move by the KSRTC to shore up the revenue collection using inspectors has also started paying dividends. The official said the bus crew was also cooperating the drive and was taking steps to carry more commuters. The corporation has managed to get Rs. 4.56 crore from ticket collection on Saturday and Rs. 4.51 crore on Sunday despite the educational institutions closing down for the summer vacation.