Private bus operators in the city want the government to reconsider the policy of providing tickets at concessional rates to school and college students. Operators are of the view that they suffer huge losses due to the student population that take buses during peak hours.
They say students hardly pay 12.5% of the ticket fare to travel by private buses. “There has been a spurt in the number of students travelling to schools and colleges. The government should consider limiting concession rates to students who belong to BPL category,” said M B Satyan, PBOA state president.
According to operators, students occupy almost the entire bus during peak hours and it prevents other passengers from entering it. “It even leads to disputes between the crew and student community,” he said.
Private bus operators made this demand in an online discussion on ‘Private Bus Operations in Kerala: Challenges and Way Ahead’ organised by Centre for Public Policy Research on Wednesday.
In the post Covid-19 times, to help the private bus operators revive their businesses, each bus will have to generate a collection of around Rs 14,000 per day. It will be then possible for us to generate a profit of Rs 2,000-Rs2,500 per day.
Kerala bus transport association state secretary, Gokul Das, said people are moving away from public transport. “It has further affected operations of private buses. In the times of Covid-19, the number of passengers using buses has to be around 250 per day. Before the calamity stuck, there were about 900-1,000 passengers travelling by buses,” he said, adding that the increase in diesel prices makes it impossible for bus owners to operate fleets. “Increase in fuel prices, spare parts and other expenses related to operations force bus operators to demand a hike in ticket fares. Otherwise, it will become impossible for us to remain in business. There must be a move to do away with the taxes imposed on fuel,” said Satyan.
Then there are issues related to issuance of permits. Permits are being issued to operate numerable buses in one route. Route nationalisation has been carried out in the most unscientific manner. Government should come forward to open up new routes to private buses.
This news article is based on the online live discussion ‘Private Bus Operations in Kerala: Challenges and Way Ahead’ hosted by CPPR.
This article was published on The Times of India on June 18, 2020. Click here to read