60 idling low-floor buses to be redeployed on Thiruvananthapuram-Kozhikode route

Low-floor AC buses of KSRTC idling at the weed-infested depot at Thevara.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

Responding to the public outcry over scores of premium buses keeping away from service post-lockdown despite increasing demand for a reliable mode of public transport across the State, Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) chairman and managing director Biju Prabhakar has said there are constraints in operating intra-city buses through Kochi’s narrow roads. “For this reason, they will be repaired and deployed on long-distance routes, including as bypass rider services in the Thiruvananthapuram-Kozhikode sector. These buses from the Volvo stable have a durable engine and can operate up to 20 lakh km without engine trouble. The sole drawback is their rock-bottom fuel efficiency of just over 2 km per litre in the city. The fuel expense alone is around ₹50 per km. Compared to this in highways, they can cover over 2.50 km per litre of diesel.”

Of the total 190 low-floor AC buses which were withdrawn from service following the pandemic, 106 have been rolled out after urgent repairs. Forty of them have been deployed to ferry pilgrims to Sabarimala. The over 60 buses are idling at the Kerala Urban Road Transport Corporation’s (KURTC) weed-infested depot at Thevara here. They need repairs costing up to ₹6 lakh per bus. Once this is done, they will be deployed as bypass rider services on the Thiruvananthapuram-Kozhikode route. Volvo is willing to provide a service coordinator and talks are on to get genuine spares, he said.

Official sources attributed the deteriorating condition of the buses, each of which is priced at ₹1 crore, and their worn-off exteriors to the delay in repairing dents, damaged components and the doubtable quality of painting in the RTC’s workshops. “This is in stark contrast with the upkeep and aesthetics of AC buses maintained by RTCs of neighbouring States – especially Karnataka. Timely maintenance is crucial since it also reflects in the form of higher fuel efficiency of buses operated by most other RTCs in the country,” they said.

City buses

The KSRTC hopes to receive funds from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, using which a fleet of city service buses which are smaller than conventional low-floor buses will be introduced in Kochi. With the Thevara depot having little relevance (and plans under way to convert it into a hub for caravan tourism), they would be based at KSRTC’s main depot in the city, Mr. Prabhakar added.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 3:19:25 PM |

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