Kerala

KSRTC, private bus operators reeling from HSD price hike

Schedules have been scaled down by KSRTC and private operators

The recent spate of hike in the price of the high speed diesel (HSD) by oil majors has hit hard the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and the private bus operators reeling from the poor patronage and restricted inter and intra-district services due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown.

The daily hike in the price of the HSD by oil majors for the last seven days has resulted in an increase of around ₹4 per litre and indications are that the price will go up further in the coming days.

Operations

With the revenue from the fleet dwindling and not enough to pay the salary of the bus crew and fuel bill, the hike is upsetting the operations by the KSRTC and the private bus operators in the State.

As the services are running into heavy loss, the schedules have been scaled down by the KSRTC and private operators.

The KSRTC, which operated 2,500 services on Friday, operated only 1,700 services on Saturday. Of the 12,500 private stage carriers, only around 450 ran on Saturday.

Closure of educational institutions, holidays during weekends, lockdown on Sundays, restricted operations from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. and curbs on travelling and fear of the spurt in the pandemic are affecting the services.

Commuters are also facing hardship on account of the lack of services. Those in the districts north of Thrissur are the worst-hit as the private stage carriers have an upper hand in the operations.

Confused lot

The operators of the private carriers, who were demanding restoration of the hiked bus fare, are confused how to operate the vehicles as the revenue is not enough to pay even the fuel bill let alone the salary.

The private bus operators collected the old minimum bus fare of ₹8 on Saturday as the Division Bench of the High Court had stayed the Single Bench order of the roll-back of the fares on June 2.

“For 75 days, we are suffering and the crew is taking only 50% of the salary daily due to the crisis. Now we have to spend extra money for the HSD. The government should have allowed us to collect ₹12 as minimum fare and ₹1.10 for subsequent km till Fare Revision Committee submits the report,” says Johnson Payyampally, general secretary of the Thrissur-based All Kerala Bus Operators Forum.

The operators are not hopeful that the Fare Revision Committee will submit the report within 15 days.

Chairman of the Joint Action Council of Bus Owners Lawrence Babu says the government should step in to address the issues faced by them.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 4:53:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/ksrtc-private-bus-operators-reeling-from-hsd-price-hike/article31826970.ece

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