The ill-fated bus that took the lives of seven people early on Thursday morning was ferrying passengers in violation of the permit.
The bus, KA 01 8642, going from Bangalore to Mumbai had an all India omni bus permit, a tourist permit and was operating in violation of the permit.
There are two types of permits for buses - stage carriage permit and contract carriage permit. Stage carriage permits allow bus operators to pick up passengers from multiple places and book individual seats on buses (regular services of KSRTC, for instance). Contract carriage buses operate as tourist vehicles where in order to transport a group of people from destination A to B, the bus has to be booked in bulk. An all India omni bus permit is given to those buses operating as contract carriages in more than three states.
P Ravi Kumar, Principal Secretary, Transport Department, reading a High Court Order said that the difference between the two permits was in the intention of travelling.
“In case of contract carriages, the intention is to travel together to a marriage or family function, a religious or political function,” he said.
There are a total of 33,000 buses with stage contract carriages, of which 24,000 buses belong to KSRTC and 9,000 buses are owned by private travel agencies. 2,053 buses operate with a contract carriage.
Both the buses involved in the accidents were tourist buses and were operating in violation of the permit. Department officials say this is rampant and difficult to implement for reasons such as the lobby involved in bus operations, the fact that the State Transport Authority does not have adequate staff to implement and enforce the Motor Vehicles Act and prefer to turn a blind eye to the violations.
K Amar Narayan, Commissioner for Transport and Road Safety as well as various officials in the Transport Department admit that there are buses that operate in violation of the contract carriage permit. However, they play it down, saying violations have been happening for a long time. The shortage of staff is so severe, in fact, that the department brought in 20 inspectors from other parts of the state to form 10 squads that would check various violations, including permit violations, said R V D’Souza, Joint Director, Transport Department.