KSRTC to scrap 10 idling low-floor Volvo buses

Over two dozen low-floor Volvo buses of the KSRTC have been rusting away at its Thevara depot in Kochi owing to shoddy upkeep.

Over two dozen low-floor Volvo buses of the KSRTC have been rusting away at its Thevara depot in Kochi owing to shoddy upkeep. | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) will scrap 10 of the 28 low-floor Volvo buses which have been idling for the past two years at its depot at Thevara here.

This is the first time that a decision has been taken to scrap low-floor buses that were handed over to the corporation by the Centre under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme in 2009-’10, owing to the agency’s precarious financial state. “The KSRTC was for repairing the buses after the pandemic got over, and in tune with the rise in demand [during summer and monsoon]. The decision to scrap them was taken on the basis of a directive of the Kerala High Court, following which a committee comprising engineers of the KSRTC and experts from the Motor Vehicles Department [MVD] and Model Engineering College, Thrikkakara, was appointed to inspect them. They suggested that it would be ideal to scrap 10 of the 28 idling Volvo buses which were aged over 11 years,” official sources said.

The committee estimated that each bus needed between ₹21 lakh and ₹45 lakh for repair work, and the expenses for the 10 buses that were shortlisted for scrapping will total ₹3.50 crore. “It will not be financially viable owing to the rising diesel price and the low fuel efficiency [approximately 2.25 km per litre of diesel] of the buses. Moreover, their seats are not suited for long-distance travel, and getting fitness certificates will entail additional expense,” they added.

Nevertheless, Volvo buses are much more durable and are of much better quality than their peers and are capable of operating up to 20 lakh km devoid of the need to overhaul their engines. None of the buses identified for scrapping had covered 20 lakh km. The buses would have been repaired and re-introduced, but for the agency being neck-deep in debt and also due to slack preventive maintenance, it is learnt.

On the need for preventive maintenance, which would have ensured that the buses operated another few lakh km before being scrapped, KSRTC Chairman and Managing Director Biju Prabhakar said Volvo and Ashok Leyland had been directed to provide service coordinators to supervise the RTC’s low-floor and other premium buses. “They will be in charge of preventive maintenance of their buses and will report to me. This was seldom done earlier, and repairs were done only after buses broke down, following which local purchase of spare parts was done,” he added.

Components to be salvaged

It has also been decided to salvage the engine and other reusable components of the 10 buses that will be scrapped, for use in the 18 other Volvo buses that are awaiting repair work. The KSRTC can thus save ₹2 crore on that count, while investing an additional ₹1.50 crore on spare parts will help ready the buses to resume service, he added.

The director board of the corporation had earlier permitted the scrapping of 920 other buses, 620 of which were put up for auction. The remaining 300 will be converted into ‘shop on wheels’. Four of them have been converted into classrooms at educational institutions.

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Printable version | May 21, 2022 8:01:29 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/ksrtc-to-scrap-10-idling-low-floor-volvo-buses/article65439182.ece