Andhra Pradesh

On road to recovery

Public transport has resumed across Prakasam district as people adapted themselves to the new normal in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic altering their way of life.

“How long can we stay back at home without any meaningful economic activity?” asks 55-year-old Narasamma, a vegetable vendor, before boarding a Palle Velugu bus to her native Ethamukalla at the bus station here. She has sold away the veggies brought from her village at the new vegetable market here.

“We have been desperately waiting for the unlock to happen completely,” says Vimala, a construction worker from Podili after getting down from a bus. The RTC bus station here is bustling with activity as services from all the eight depots in the district have been restored following a steep fall in coronavirus cases.

However, operating services during the pandemic time is not an easy task, as a bus crew puts it. “We have to use all our persuasive skills to ensure a safe travel for passengers as they tend to observe the safe distancing norm more in breach,” says K. Madhava Rao, a bus conductor.

“We even carry spare face masks for passengers who rush in without the safety gear,” says B. Ravi, a bus driver.

“We have resumed 70% of the bus services duly following COVID-19 safety norms. Public response is very encouraging,” says APSRTC Regional Manager G. Vijaya Geetha as she inspects the help desk at the sprawling complex.

“Half of the seats in the buses are being left vacant for the safety of passengers,” she tells The Hindu. Besides routine cleaning, the buses are being sanitised with sodium hypochlorite to prevent the spread of the disease.

Over 90% of the running staff as also those involved in overhauling of the buses in the depots have been provided with two doses of the vaccine. Efforts are on to cover the remaining staff as well, she explains.

Occupancy ratio improves

The public transporter now clocks an operating ratio (OR) of 60%. It should go up to about 80% for it get some decent returns. “During week days we see a daily collection of ₹60 lakh which dips to ₹50 lakh during weekends. Before COVID-19 struck, the daily collection was over ₹1 crore,” she says.

The RTC’s logistics service has come in handy during the tough times as it has been fetching an income of about ₹1 lakh per day, though it is much less than ₹1.50 lakh being made before the virus outbreak.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2021 7:54:24 PM |

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