Ernakulam DTPC likely to sell its idling luxury bus

Updated - May 16, 2024 09:49 pm IST

Published - May 16, 2024 09:04 pm IST - KOCHI

The 24-seat bus used to ferry tourists to popular locales in the city suburbs like West Kochi, and to neighbouring districts. 

The 24-seat bus used to ferry tourists to popular locales in the city suburbs like West Kochi, and to neighbouring districts.  | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Ernakulam District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) has sought Kerala Tourism’s permission to sell its AC bus that was mostly idling since the pandemic, citing ‘unaffordable’ cost of maintenance.

The 24-seat bus used to ferry tourists to popular locales in the city suburbs like West Kochi, and to neighbouring districts. It was idling at Durbar Hall Ground in the city hub since 2021, since tourism stakeholders were on different pages on the mode of operating the bus.

It would be tough to repair and operate it in a feasible manner since the repair bill has escalated to over ₹8 lakh. So it was decided to sell it off, informed sources said.

The luxury bus that cost ₹50 lakh has push-back seats, refrigerator, coffee maker, audio and video systems, wireless microphone, urinal and a fire extinguisher, among others. The bus has been idling since early 2021 following an audit objection to temporarily handing it over to a private firm for operations.

It was part of the fleet of three such buses that were purchased by Kerala Tourism in 2019 and given to Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC), which in turn handed it over to DTPCs of Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur, for operating city and weekend tours to popular tourism destinations in nearby districts.

Back in October 2023, the DTPC’s executive committee had decided to resume the tour packages of the bus, from the city to popular locales like Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, Malayatoor, Cherai, Munambam and Athirapilly.

Decrying improper upkeep of tourism infrastructure like the bus and pay-and-use toilets that were readied in different parts of the district, C. Satish, president, All Kerala Tour Guides’ Association, said the result was there for all to see – they have to be sold off or closed down. “Agencies like DTPC ought to learn from those like Kochi Water Metro Limited (KWML) whose ferries that operate from the city to Fort Kochi and Vypeen are having sound patronage, including from tourists. KWML has, in addition, invested in modern boat terminals having well-maintained toilets.”

One advantage of bus tours is that they can halt at any point en route to a destination, unlike ferries that need dedicated terminals, he added.

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