Seeks government nod to cut uneconomic services

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has sought the government’s nod to concentrate on profitable bus routes and rationalise operations to tide over the financial crisis induced by the decision of oil companies to charge a higher price for fuel from bulk consumers.

‘Rationalisation of operations and optimisation of services’ was the strategy adopted by the loss-making State transport undertaking. The quantity of high-speed diesel (HSD) purchased from Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Hindustan Petroleum (HP) was reduced by 20 per cent as KSRTC lacked the funds to pay for the fuel.

On an average, KSRTC needed 4.3 lakh litres of diesel a day for its operations and it spent Rs.2.1 crore for a day on fuel bill. Official sources told The Hindu that the corporation was purchasing HSD only for Rs.2.1 crore as part of the ‘prudent’ management strategy to overcome the crisis. As per this, the schedules on uneconomic routes had to be cut, they said. The officials had been asked not to wind up services to remote, hilly, and tribal areas where only the KSRTC operated, sources said. The rationalisation would be taken up route wise, on a scientific basis, without putting commuters to hardship, officials said.

The officials had been asked to avoid the ‘maximum loss-making services’ and to prioritise services as 1,650 schedules of the total 5,300 operated daily had been identified as ‘uneconomic.’ A majority of these schedules were operated using ordinary buses and had been started under political compulsions, they said.

To seek aid

The KSRTC had also decided to push for the Rs.200-crore assistance from the government and waiver on the 19.8 per cent sales tax paid on every litre of diesel. The KSRTC had not been able to pay pension to 37,000 retired employees. The government would need to act swiftly on waiver of sales tax, granting of financial assistance, and winding up uneconomic routes as Minister for Transport Arayadan Mohammed had ruled out a hike in bus fares, sources said.

A hike in bus fare would enable the 14,000 private buses to reap profit as they do not fall in the bulk consumers category.

Another option for KSRTC was to depend on retail outlets, including that of the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation. “Although the corporation will save over Rs.10 per litre of HSD, it is not feasible as it will lead to legal and technical issues. The payment and chances of corruption are high in retail outlets. The corporation will also not be able to have a control on fuel efficiency,” sources said.

The strategies were discussed at a meeting of the zonal officers of KSRTC convened by KSRTC Chairman and Managing Director K.G. Mohanlal. The officers had been sensitised on the strategy adopted and were asked to closely monitor the schedules.

The daily revenue of the KSRTC on January 19 was Rs.4.85 crore; Rs.4.27 crore on January 20; and Rs.4.80 crore on January 21. Sources said this showed that the corporation had not curtailed schedules in a big way.

The corporation had decided to streamline operations by ‘cashing in’ on the situation created after being tagged as a ‘bulk consumer’ along with 53-odd State undertakings.

  • KSRTC needs 4.3 lakh litres of diesel a day

  • Rs.200-crore aid sought from government