The air-conditioned low-floor buses of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) are yet to resume operations in Kochi, despite around 70% of private buses getting back to the road following improved patronage for public transport during the Onam festive season.
This many private buses have resumed services on the hope that the government will waive road tax (which comes to approximately ₹1.20 lakh per bus annually) for the third quarter as well. Still, patronage is sound only during peak hours, said K.B. Suneer, general secretary, Ernakulam District Private Bus Operators Association.
Almost the entire 190-strong fleet of AC low-floor buses, barring a dozen which operate in the Thiruvananthapuram-Kozhikode sector, remain grounded, including at the KURTC depot at Thevara here. Several non-AC low-floor buses were taken to Thiruvananthapuram where they were rebranded for operations in the State capital, KSRTC sources said.
Most buses have remained thus for over a year, despite concern that they will suffer mechanical problems due to continued non-use, although workers have been directed to start and move them at frequent intervals.
KSRTC Managing Director Biju Prabhakar said non-AC low-floor buses would be reintroduced in Kochi and Kozhikode once their operations stabilised in Thiruvananthapuram. “For this, crew and passengers have to get used to the e-ticketing system and the one-day travel card that is on the anvil in the State capital.”
Sources in the agency’s Ernakulam unit said more services could be operated in keeping with passenger patronage, which is now limited to peak hours. Additional services are being operated during peak times. At the same time, several commuters fear to board AC buses due to the pandemic situation, they added.
Most Thirukochi buses too have not resumed regular services, including on mofussil routes.
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