VIJAYAWADA: Even as the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC), the major stakeholder in Vijayawada Urban Transport Company (VUTC) - a special purpose vehicle (SPV) set up for the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) project - is incurring huge losses, officials are toying with the idea of pulling out of the SPV.
It may be recalled that the state government in 2008 had issued GO no. 816 facilitating the formation of an SPV called VUTC for the execution of the BRTS project in the city, with APSRTC holding 51 per cent share, Vijayawada Municipal Corporation 25 per cent and Vijayawada-Guntur-Tenali-Mangalagiri Urban Development Authority (VGTM-UDA) holding 21 per cent share. While the BRTS line was proposed for 15.5 km, the VMC could complete only 3.5 km of special corridor for the specially designed buses. The RTC procured a fleet of 40 buses for this purpose, but is running only seven as the project remained incomplete.
Though the RTC has been using specially designed low-floor buses for the BRTS corridor since 2012, it is incurring losses due to low occupancy. APSRTC assistant manager (traffic) JV Rao said that these specially designed buses had cost `40 lakh each, double the rate of the ordinary city bus, but they are offering the services at deluxe bus rates.
“We are operating seven buses in the BRTS corridor now. The per-km expenditure for RTC is put at `50, while the earning per km (EPM) is about `25. The seven buses travel about 2,250 km every day, which leads to a loss of `56,000 a day,” he explained.
The road conditions in the city are not suitable for the BRTS project and the RTC has extended the bus services till Kankipadu to cope with the losses, on the directives from the district collector. “The collector also asked us to operate the buses till Machilipatnam to mitigate the losses, but the purpose of the BRTS will be lost as it will be like any other bus service. For now, we are making one trip to Machilipatnam every day,” Rao added.
Nevertheless, the assistant manager has not completely ruled out the possibility of the RTC pulling out from the SPV. “The VUTC is not functioning in a full-fledged manner. It is as if the RTC is the solo stakeholder in this project.”
While the specially designed buses require high maintenance and are not very fuel efficient, the RTC is under pressure to operate them in the small BRTS stretch. APSRTC executive director (Vijayawada) R Nagaraju, who is also the managing director of the VUTC, said that a meeting was held before the elections with all the stakeholders to discuss the problems. He, however, denied the possibility of pulling out of the SPV. “A dedicated route should be made available for us to offer better services. We invested a lot to procure the buses. We have already taken up the issue of losses with the officials concerned. We will discuss and come up with alternative plans,” he said.
However, sources in the RTC said that the officials are planning to come out of the SPV as they are unable to bear the losses further, especially after the Seemandhra RTC has suffered huge losses due to bifurcation of the state.