The KSRTC’s decision to deploy a bulk of air-conditioned low-floor buses as Bypass Rider services on the Thiruvananthapuram-Kozhikode route through the national highway and MC Road must not be at the cost of premium services it operated from the city to its suburbs, according to passengers.
Among them, there was sound demand for services to, among other places, Muvattupuzha, Angamaly, Aluva, and Piravom, mainly from regular passengers, a bulk of whom are office-goers and women.
Among regular commuters on the city-Muvattupuzha route, till buses were withdrawn in the wake of the pandemic, was Siby joseph, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala (RBDCK). “Myself and my colleague used to commute 90 km to and fro each day in either AC low-floor or fast passenger [FP] buses on the route. I shifted to car when they were withdrawn. The AC low-floor buses, which enjoyed good patronage, have not resumed service, although a few FP services have begun operations,” he said.
According to him, car journeys are a hassle, since it caused driver fatigue, especially during the return trip back home. Late evening drives are especially risky, since roads are not well lit. The KSRTC must resume AC bus services as soon as possible, so that people who now commute in personalised vehicles can shift to public transport, Mr. Joseph said.
Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) chairman D. Dhanuraj said the KSRTC, which enjoyed monopoly along the NH and other nationalised routes, must resume premium bus services to suburban towns, to lessen traffic congestion and pollution caused by cars and two-wheelers. “It will also help commuters save substantial amounts spent on fuel. Sadly, decision-makers seem clueless or lack will power to streamline public transport modes in the State.”
However, Tajudeen V.M., the Ernakulam zonal officer of the KSRTC, said AC buses from the Volvo stable raked in higher income when they were operated on long-distance routes between districts, rather than in suburban corridors which could make do with conventional non-AC buses.
This article was first published in The Hindu