Thiruvananthapuram

No ‘free pass’ travel in private buses

Those availing themselves of fare concessions to be allowed

Choosing not to bank into Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC)’s move to scale down its intra-district ordinary services on Friday, the private bus operators have frozen travel of free pass holders in their vehicles.

The KSRTC’s move was spurred by poor patronage in the intra-district sector.

“Both the KSRTC and the private buses are running at loss due to limited services and social distancing norms and we have temporarily frozen the travel of free pass holders,” general secretary of the Kerala State Private Bus Operators Federation Lawerence Babu said. Hence, all people boarding the private buses would have to take tickets to fetch revenue for the operators.

Mr. Babu said the decision would be applicable even to police personnel and media personnel commuting using free passes. The ones to be exempt would be those availing themselves of concession in fares. “We will provide the concessional fare to the students,” he added.

Compared to the 1,432 services operated in 14 districts on Thursday, the KSRTC operated only 1,371 services on Friday due to poor commuter response to the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ordinary services. Of these services, 584 were in Thiruvananthapuram zone, 497 in Ernakulam zone, and 290 in Kozhikode zone. The highest of 383 services were operated in Thiruvananthapuram district, followed by 165 in Ernakulam district, and 130 in Kollam district.

The State-owned fleet’s collection from the ordinary services went up from ₹35,32,465 on Wednesday to ₹56,77,456. The distance covered by the 1,432 buses was 2,41,223 kms and the passengers ferried were 3, 24,288. On Wednesday, 1,319 buses deployed were able to cover only 2,12,310 kms and carry 1,74,299. The earning per km has gone up from Wednesday’s ₹16.64 to ₹23.11.

As on Thursday, over 300 private buses also operated services in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Ernakulam and other districts. Mr. Babu said more private buses would enter the road only by Tuesday after undergoing repairs and taking the insurance cover.

The KSRTC operations wing is facing wrath from the commuters over lack of services after 7 p.m. and dearth of enough seats especially between source and destination stops. “Short trips are the solution to those needing to board from places in between, but in the prevailing conditions it is not possible. Night curfew due to lockdown is preventing services after 7 p.m.” a top KSRTC official said.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 7:45:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/no-free-pass-travel-in-private-buses/article31652744.ece

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