Tamil Nadu

STCs staring at huge financial losses due to non-operation of buses for five months

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit public transport operations, the State transport department was facing deficit. File photo   | Photo Credit: M_VEDHAN

The stoppage of the bus operations in the State for more than five months is set to leave a huge hole in the finances of the eight State Transport Corporations (STCs). While the inter-State bus operations are set to resume operations from September 1, the eight STCs would have lost more than ₹2,000 crore in payment of salary and wages alone for the duration.

The eight STCs’ expenditure for salaries and wages per month alone works out to nearly 450 crore. The MTC spends nearly ₹100 crore, followed by Kumbakonam STC (₹70 crore), Villupuram (₹65 crore), Coimbatore (₹60 crore), Madurai (₹50 crore), and Salem and Tirunelveli STCs ₹40 crore each. The State Express Transport Corporation (SETC) engaged in bus operations with different districts and States spends only ₹20 crore.

As per the financial report, which is available with The Hindu, the total cash loss till March 2019 was ₹21,530 crore after deducting depreciation of ₹4,650 crore. Even before the pandemic hit public transport operations, the State transport department was facing monthly deficit for salary (₹100 crore), pension (₹36 crore), terminal benefit (₹120 crore) and Dearness Allowance for pensioners (₹22 crore).

A senior retired official of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) said the stopping of bus operations in the State, particularly in the city, was directly responsible for this. Despite the operation of more than 200 buses daily for transporting government officials and essential workers, all the STCs would be facing a huge revenue shortfall.

Several transportation activists had suggested that the public transport was a must for the common people . A few activists had also cited the example of Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) which operated more than 4,500 buses, including air-conditioned ones, daily during the pandemic.

Sivasubramaniam of ITDP India said numerous studies around the world had suggested public transport was safe even with simple measures like wearing masks, basic sanitation and staying silent during the journey. As businesses and workplaces are starting operations, people need public transportation - in absence of which they might be forced to shift to private vehicles. Taking the necessary steps to restart public transport was the need of the hour.

The transport activists also allege that the burden of losses would be shifted to the common people by way of increase in fares in the future.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2021 8:22:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/stcs-staring-at-huge-financial-losses-due-to-non-operation-of-buses-for-five-months/article32487676.ece

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