Private buses get low patronage

Back on the road: Private buses resumed services in Puducherry after six months amid strict enforcement of precautionary measures.   | Photo Credit: S_S_KUMAR

Although private buses have resumed skeletal services in the city under a set of precautionary norms stipulated by the government and with strict limits on permissible seating and standing capacity, it could take at least a few weeks for the operations to stabilise, the operators said.

Of the approximately 220 buses operating, only a fraction of the vehicles are back on the road after nearly seven months. Bus owners said that because of the long break, many buses would have to be serviced to make them roadworthy.

Inter-State services are yet to resume in the Villupuram, Cuddalore, Tindivanam and Chidambaram sectors. The resumption of services on routes follows a meeting convened with operators by Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy recently.

According to the operators, the concession offered was a waiver of road tax for two quarters of the fiscal — the per quarter rates were about ₹28,000 for inter-State, ₹18,000 for intra-State and ₹14,000 for town service categories.

“It could take some time for people to patronise bus services. Most buses are running well below permitted capacity during off-peak hours,” said Bharathi Kannan, president of the Puducherry Private Bus Owners’ Association.

Following the norms

Adopting social distancing norms means that only one passenger would sit on the two-seat block and two on the three-seat block while 25 passengers were allowed to travel standing.

More than the restrictions on passengers though, poor patronage was adding to the operational cost. “We hope the situation will improve once inter-State services begin,” Mr. Kannan said.

The association appealed to the government for an increase in ticket prices to cover the losses as they were operating with reduced passenger capacity. While the Transport Commissioner had written to his counterpart in Tamil Nadu, the Chief Minister had assured them of taking up the matter of resumption of inter-State services with Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, the association said.

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2020 8:42:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/private-buses-get-low-patronage/article32933455.ece

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