BENGALURU: THE Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation needs to take a sharp look at its finances. Its plans to buy 1,700 buses this financial year may go kaput due to shortage of funds.
Another reason it is likely to cut its purchases down by half is because it has to spend an additional `10 crore as salaries every month owing to the revised salaries.
Experts say there should be at least 120 buses per lakh of the city’s population. However, the BMTC has only 6,347 buses against the required number of 14,000 buses. The BMTC has not added a single bus to its fleet since December 2014.
This is because the BMTC is not getting adequate funds from the government to buy new buses. Sources say that nearly 1,000 buses from the existing fleet are ready to be scrapped since they have crossed 10 years period of service or 8.5 lakh km in running. “We are forced to retain some of the buses because of shortage of vehicles. The plan for new buses will be delayed due to the financial crisis,” said a BMTC official.
“We have received nearly 1,000 suggestions on ‘need more buses’ option on the BMTC website, but we are unable to increase the number of buses without financial assistance from the government. The government is also not allowing us to increase the bus fare to reduce the operational loss” he said.
On any given day, BMTC buses carry an average of 5.02 million passengers in 6,347 buses in the city. The city has witnessed severe traffic during the three-day bus strike after over 60 lakhs vehicles hit the road.
Experts say rise in traffic congestion and air pollution in the city is because more people were forced to depend on private vehicles due to inadequate number of buses. M N Srihari, traffic expert and adviser to the government, said the government should introduce more mini buses in the city and also rationalise the routes in such a way that it will attract more commuters to public transport. “Many people are exploring alternatives like the Metro rail which will affect the BMTC in the long run,” he said. Vinay Srinivas, a member of Bengaluru Bus Prayaanikara Vedike, an NGO which is campaigning for better bus services, said the BMTC cannot blame salary hike as an excuse to not buy new buses. “It’s high time the government gave adequate financial assistance to all four transport corporations to purchase new buses,” Srinivas said.