Series of facilities including 24/7 call centre planned, says MD Prasada Rao

The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) is in the process of launching a series of initiatives aimed at improving its occupancy ratio from the current 69 per cent to 74 per cent during this year.

The break-even point for the biggest fleet owner in the world is 70 per cent and anything more means profit, according to its Vice-Chairman and Managing Director B. Prasada Rao.

Initiatives include a new Vanitha card that offers a 10 per cent discount for all members of families having white ration cards, a number that stands at about 1.85 crore now. The new ‘Bus Advance Reservation from Anywhere to Anywhere Travel' (BARAT, an improvement on the existing Online Passenger Reservation System (OPRS) and a 24/7 call centre to receive calls are expected to boost occupancy.

Currently, an SMS-based grievance redressal mechanism is in place, apart from a SMS to inform people buying e-tickets of departures and other information. Once the call centre starts functioning, passengers will have a landline and a mobile number routed to a dozen ports each so that 24 people can talk simultaneously, get information on arrivals and departures and get their doubts cleared.

The government has included in the State budget, a soft loan of Rs. 200 crore to serve as margin money to buy new buses. “In the fiscal 2010-11, about 1,800 buses were bought and if we get our quarterly releases on time, we will be able to acquire 4,000 buses this year and 4,000 more in the next fiscal,” Mr. Prasada Rao toldThe Hindu.

As for the brand break-up, APSRTC's normal procedure is to go for 50:50 Ashok Leyland and Tata buses, up to the super luxury category. This year atleast 100 new ‘Indra' air-conditioned Ashok Leyland buses will be added to the over 21,200-strong fleet, apart from 20 ‘Garuda' services, the latest B9 R, single-axle high-end luxury Volvo buses.

The corporation is also trying out Mercedes Benz luxury buses. On a pilot basis, one of these will be run for about 20 days soon, on the busy Hyderabad-Bangalore-Hyderabad sector, a route that has eight departures from either side at present, according to Executive Director-Operations S. Nagaraju.

“Our endeavour is to respond to passengers at all times. We will fine tune our customer response systems to be in constant contact with users,” Mr. Prasada Rao said, adding that with the short messaging service and other innovations, the goal was to provide services on a par with airlines.

  • New Vanitha card offers 10 p.c. discount to families having white ration cards

  • RTC plans to acquire 4,000 buses this year; Mercedes Benz bus introduced to Bangalore