Despite having a fleet size of 6,798 buses, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) is able to run only around 5,600. There is scope to run an additional 900 buses on a daily basis, but a shortage of drivers has halted those plans.
In 2013-14, the BMTC had a fleet size of 6,775 buses and the staff strength was 36,079. At present the corporation has almost the same fleet size (6,798), however the staff size has reduced to 29,726.
After the outbreak of the pandemic, the State government had directed the BMTC not to go for recruitment of drivers, as one of the measures to reduce the financial burden. Instead, the BMTC was asked to outsource drivers on a contractual basis. The corporation is still buying time to fill vacancies.
As per officials, there is a shortage of over 5,000 drivers. “There has been no recruitment of drivers for a long time resulting in the shortage. This has obviously resulted in a reduced number of services. Shortage of staff is also taking a toll on the drivers as they have to work more to cover peak hours. At the same time, the fleet remains underutilised. During pre-COVID-19 times, a bus used to cover 210 km, but now it has been reduced to 150 km,” an official said.
It is said that when compared to pre-COVID-19, due to staff shortage, the corporation is not in a position to run over 500 schedules of services (around 5,000 trips).
Last recruitment in 2018
Sources said that the last regular recruitment was in 2018 and over the years, hundreds of staff had retired from service. More than 1,000 staff, including drivers, conductors, and other, had opted for inter-corporation transfers also. Sources said that over 500 are in the provisional list of transfers this year.
For over two years, the AC bus fleet of the corporation has remained underutilised. The BMTC has a fleet size of 860-odd buses, out of which over 400 are not being used. “We are unable to run the AC buses despite the demand. On the other hand, exorbitant fuel prices make it financially infeasible to run these buses.”
On contract basis
Chairman of BMTC N.S. Nandeesha Reddy said: “There are various factors for the staff shortage. When inter-corporation transfers were allowed, many drivers had opted to go to KSRTC and other corporations to work in their native places. Considering the shortage of staff, the State government had directed the BMTC to hire drivers on contract. We will float a tender for hiring 1,000 drivers and once they join, it will help in running more services.”
Sources said that the management is also approaching the government seeking permission to go for regular recruitment.