KSRTC justifies taking luxury buses on rent for long trips

KSRTC buses parked at KSRTCs Ernakulam bus stand following the Friday strike by KSRTC unions.   | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) inviting tenders to take luxury buses on rent even as over 100 of its idling AC-low floor and luxury buses are awaiting repairs, is aimed at providing long-distance commuters with adequate number of sleeper and semi-sleeper buses, the agency’s Chairman and Managing Director Biju Prabhakar has said.

Centre’s policy

“This is crucial since the agency is in no position to substitute the 704 super-class buses (fast passenger and above), whose permit validity was recently extended from seven years to nine years, with new buses. Only 100 new buses are on the anvil – the first addition to the RTC’s fleet after 2017, while 310 CNG and 50 electric buses that will shortly be procured are primarily meant for operation within Thiruvananthapuram. In such a situation, the KSRTC stands the risk of being wiped out of the long-distance operational platform, if private operators begin operating luxury buses in Kerala making use of the Centre’s aggregator policy that was announced earlier this year,” he added.

The policy says that any service provider can operate buses anywhere in the country, if they obtain a contract-carriage permit at the national level. The KSRTC has a total of just around 300 premium buses, including 190 AC low-floor buses whose seats are not designed for long journeys. A substantial number of them are idling, for want of upkeep. In this circumstance, the RTC’s move to avail luxury buses on rent is being seen as an attempt to provide commuters with air-suspension buses having adjustable seats.

Financing model

Referring to the financing model, sources in the agency said each luxury bus that would be taken on rent would have to be paid approximately ₹10 per km as rent, using which the bus owner/operator would have to maintain the vehicle. Another around ₹40 is expected to be spent on fuel and other expenses.

The expected income is ₹50 per km. Such a mode of operation exists in places like New Delhi, where commuters get to travel in clean, comfortable buses, they said.

The move comes in the wake of KSRTC facing considerable flak for shoddy upkeep and operation of its existing fleet of long-distance buses, due to reliance on largely archaic practices.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 3:02:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/ksrtc-justifies-taking-luxury-buses-on-rent-for-long-trips/article37617346.ece

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