RTC awaits aid to deliver promises to commuters

The TRS has included an elevated Bus Rapid Transit System in its manifesto while the BJP has promised women free travel in city buses operated by the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation which is grappling with pre- and post-COVID losses and dwindling fleet strength.   | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

Ahead of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, bus passengers underscored that the government must ensure that the civic body and the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) work more closely to provide a hassle-free experience.

On the one hand, while TRS made a mention of an elevated Bus Rapid Transit System in its manifesto and the BJP promised free travel in city buses to women, there is an urgent need to strengthen the transport juggernaut which has been marred by losses in pre-COVID times, dwindling fleet strength and loss of revenue during the lockdown.

Among suggestions made by transport experts is that GHMC and TSRTC be on the same page while identifying bus shelters.

“Both corporations should have the bus user in mind while identifying areas to construct bus shelters. Two examples are Mehdipatnam and Dilsukhnagar. The footfall here is high and the bus shelters there are inadequate. Secondly, the bus shelter near the Khairtabad RTA office is good. But the footfall at Lakdikapul, just a short distance away, is much higher. There are around 100 buses per hour which pass here. Therefore, the need of bus shelters there is acute,” says transport researcher G.S.R. Chaitanya.

Onus on GHMC

Both Mr Chaitanya and TSRTC officials pointed out that it is the GHMC which is in-charge of sanctioning and maintaining bus shelters. They said one of the factors that drives the setting up of bus shelters is revenue by means of advertisements. “On a few occasions, we brought to the GHMC’s attention that bus shelters may not be required at a particular location due to less traffic or footfall. However, it is ad revenue which takes the front seat. This is largely responsible for determining location. Other reasons which hinder bus shelter installation include objections of property owners close to proposed bus shelters,” a senior TSRTC official familiar with the issue said.

Researchers point out that while free bus rides are the prerogative of governments, there is a need to increase fleet strength. Data obtained by means of the Right to Information Act shows that TSRTC’s Greater Hyderabad zone (GHZ) has a fleet size of around 2,900 buses. This, when compared to the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), is about half. According to the BMTC’s website, its fleet size is 6,460. Since both cities are approximately of same size in terms of population, there is a need to increase the number of buses in the GHZ.

On the contrary, the number of buses in the city has dropped. In 2014-15, it was 3,811 while in 2019-202, the number stood at 2,982. While the BMTC added around 2,000 buses to its fleet since 2015-16, TSRTC was able to add only 250.

While an elevated Bus Rapid Transit System is a welcome move, options like bus priority lanes are less expensive alternatives. “Cities such as Bengaluru and Ahmedabad have the central lane dedicated to buses. This can be done on roads in Hyderabad with three lanes, in areas near the Inner Ring Road such as Chandrayangutta, Midhani and L.B. Nagar,” a transport expert said.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2021 8:11:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/rtc-awaits-aid-to-deliver-promises-to-commuters/article33202697.ece

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