S. Sundar

VIRUDHUNAGAR: Transport Minister K.N. Nehru has proposed to merge the intra-State services offered by the State Express Transport Corporation buses with the services of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporations to strengthen their finances.

“The proposal has been accepted by all unions and sent for the Chief Minister’s approval,” he said on Saturday.

Mr. Nehru, who was here to flag off new services, told The Hindu that the idea tried out in select SETC buses had worked. “We introduced it in 34 buses last month. The collection, which was just Rs. 6,000 in a bus operated on a particular route, went up to Rs. 13,000.”

The SETC had limited infrastructure, in terms of depots and manpower, he said, and not much efforts went into augmenting the collection. “The crew did not bother to enter wayside bus stands to load passengers. If these 600 buses were diverted to the local TNSTCs, the collection would definitely go up, as there is adequate manpower [with the TNSTC] to monitor the operation of the buses.”

Another advantage of the merger would be that the TNSTC could mobilise funds from financial institutions for buying new buses. The economics of the SETC, at present, could not allow it to go to institutions for funds because of its poor collections, he said.

Out of the 900 buses run by the SETC, 600 were being operated within the State. The rest were plying to Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and the Union Territory of Puducherry.

Speaking at the function earlier, Mr. Nehru said the Transport Department planned to divide the Madurai TNSTC into two regional corporations (Madurai and Tirunelveli).

The Chief Minister would soon introduce tamper-proof smart cards that would replace the conventional licence and registration certificates. To begin with, they would be introduced in Chennai, Cuddalore and Sivaganga districts.

A new office of the Deputy Transport Commissioner would be set up in Virudhunagar.

New Regional Transport Offices would come up at Virudhunagar, Vadipatti and Oddanchatram to cater to the increasing vehicle population in the State.