Chennai

MTC’s financial woes balloon as patronage plunges to a new low

Occupancy ratio dips by around 10% for 2018-19

The Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) is losing commuters in droves with the occupancy ratio dipping by around 10% for the financial year 2018-19. The occupancy ratio which is a reflection of the commuter patronage stood at 63% for the last three months. It had suffered a dip of nearly 4.50% at 73.15% for 2017-18 from a high of 77.57% in 2016-17 as per the 46th annual report of the MTC for the year 2017-18.

The steep fare hike and the operation of a large number of deluxe buses forced the residents of the city to opt for personal transportation and migrate to cheaper suburban train services. The State Transport Department had hiked the fares across all the Eight State Transport Corporations (STCs), including the MTC, in January 2018.

A senior official of the MTC said rearranging the fleet by operating more ordinary buses has helped in improving the occupancy ratio which had dipped to a low of 62% two months ago. He said routes are also being modified to improve the patronage with more focus on providing multi-modal linking facilities from far-flung outer areas.

The bus mix

The MTC’s bus mix, in particular, operating a large number of deluxe services, which is the costliest, has remained a pain point among commuters.

The corporation, taking into consideration grievances, has begun operating more Ordinary (white board) services in the past two months. This has helped in arresting the commuter migration to a certain level. However, commuters are not satisfied with the increase in the white board services, as still some ‘exclusive’ routes are operated with deluxe and express services.

M. Saravanan, a resident of Koyambedu and having his office in the information technology corridor, said some bus routes such as 570 (CMBT to Kelambakkam) have only deluxe services.

In some routes where bus transport is the only option available, the MTC is still running only deluxe and express services, he said.

Commuters say several bus services are operated as deluxe and express services such as B70 (Guindy to Pattabhiram), 71E (Thiruninravur to High Court), 580 (Avadi to Arani) and 202 (Tambaram to Avadi). All these services are supposed to be routed through villages dependent only on bus connectivity.

A senior official of MTC said before the bus fare hike, most number of services were white board. This had changed with the express taking the first spot followed by white board and the deluxe buses. The ordinary services are now being increased in various routes, the official added.

Even as commuters are quitting using buses, the financial position of the MTC has become precarious with the public transport corporation suffering a huge loss of ₹730.45 crore for 2017-18 against ₹519.48 crore for 2016-17 in the 46th annual report. The loss comes despite the bus fare hike.

While the ticket revenue of the MTC has decreased by ₹42.52 crore, simultaneously, the expenses have ballooned on all fronts, including diesel cost, employee wages and fixed cost. The increase in diesel price has shot up the variable cost by ₹8.53 crore to ₹501.95 crore (2017-18) against ₹493.42 crore (2016-17). The establishment cost covering employee wages and Dearness Allowance has increased by ₹165.66 crore, taking the total establishment cost to ₹1,333.84 crore for 2017-18 against ₹1,168.18 crore in 2016-17.

The withdrawal of a sum of ₹100.11 crore under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme by the Central government has further burdened the finances of the MTC.

A negative picture

The annual report paints a negative picture along with the financials on several fronts on the operational side of gross kilometres run, total number of passengers carried, number of routes and new buses added to the fleet.

The total kilometres run by the total fleet of 3,740 buses for 2017-18 was 33.05 crore km (35.65 crore km in 2016-17), passengers carried was 151.86 crore (171.84 crore), number of routes reduced to 708 against 833 and nil buses added against 239 new buses in 2016-17.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 3:43:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/mtcs-financial-woes-balloon-as-patronage-plunges-to-a-new-low/article28494360.ece

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