Omni bus operators in a quandary

Omni bus operators in Tiruchi say they could not pay salaries to the crew and hefty loans to pay off too   | Photo Credit: M. SRINATH

With the State government yet to permit operation of bus services, omni bus operators say they are struggling to stay afloat.

On an average day, the omni bus stand here would be brimming with crowd, food stalls serving food to travellers, and passengers waiting to board buses. However, over the last few months, things have not been the same after the COVID-19 induced lockdown. The bus owners hope that the government would come to their rescue

Speaking to The Hindu, R. Balakrishnan, president, Tiruchi Omni Bus Operators’ Association, said that the past year was one of difficult and trying times. “We are unable to pay bus drivers, cleaners and other staff. We also have hefty loans to pay off. We are unsure of how to go about it,” he said.

The omni buses ply to Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, Nagapattinam, Puducherry, Madurai, and even as far as Chennai and Bengaluru. “Most of our customers were people travelling to Chennai and Bengaluru for work. There was not a single bus service which plied to Chennai and Bengaluru empty,” a bus owner said.

In the last year, however, not a single trip has been satisfactory, Mr. Balakrishnan said. “If the bus went from here to a certain destination, it will return empty. These kinds of trips cause more harm than good as the costs of the trip double, with not enough income,” he said.

A section of bus operators are firm on their decision that they would not begin ferrying passengers until the road tax was waived. “Members of our associations are going to meet the Transport Minister and also submit a petition to the Chief Minister. We cannot go on like this,” Mr. Balakrishnan said.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2021 12:03:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/omni-bus-operators-in-a-quandary/article34955107.ece

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