HYDERABAD: TSRTC has a problem with a shortage of spare parts for their buses plying on city roads. The shortage of spare parts have been solely associated with buses procured Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme, say officials.
“There are issues with the procurement of spare parts that are needed to do proper maintenance of TSRTC buses,” said an engineer, in charge of bus maintenance at a TSRTC depot.
“There are close to 130 buses at this depot and at a time, we pull up nine buses for maintenance in a day and we rotate the buses as per duty requirements. Placing an order has to be done two months in advance and there is a delay in supply,” he added.
“The problem is not with the TSRTC’s procurement procedure but with the TATA buses that we use. Finding spare parts for these vehicles are difficult, they are expensive too,” said the official.
The TATA buses were all procured through JNNURM scheme in 2015. Telangana had received 552 buses under the scheme with 422 of the buses dedicated to service on the roads of Hyderabad.
“The average life span of these vehicles should be 15 years or 12 lakh kilometres but in just three years these buses get worn out. The main reason behind this are the bad roads and vibrations. There are vehicles in our fleet that have travelled over 18 lakh kilometres but their engines are still in good condition and now being rebuilt, but that’s not the case with the vehicles bought under the JNNURM scheme,” said the official.
The same was echoed by engineers and conductors of other bus depots in the city.
The buses that get worn out are then sent to TSRTC-owned bus body building facility at Miyapur or to a private bus body builder. “TSRTC spends around `9 to 10 lakh for rebuilding the body of each bus,” said the engineer.
Pointing at a stationed Metro Express bus standing adjacent to a TATA bus, the engineer said, “There is a visible difference in their body quality. TSRTC uses aluminium for building the bus bodies. These buses are sturdy and if there are dents due to minor accidents, they are easy to repair. But the TATA buses are made of fibre, we have to do “jugaad” to ensure the body does not fall apart. Replacements are expensive and often unavailable,” added the engineer.
The automatic doors in TSRTC buses are pneumatic doors that use compressed air to operate the doors.
“The ones that come with TATA buses are of poor quality. The air pressure is lost due to air leakages and the doors stop functioning,” said the engineer. Many of the city buses do not have doors resulting in accidents when passengers getting off the moving bus.
The year 2015-16 saw 827 accidents involving TSRTC buses which resulted in 402 deaths. The corporation does not keep a record of how many of those accidents are due to passengers getting off a moving bus. As for the LED display lights, there is a separate team but how consistently the display boards are repaired cannot be guaranteed. “It's done by a third party, but they are functional in the buses at my depot,” said the official. “One of the greatest shortcomings on the TATA buses is the low Kilometre per litre (KMPL) that they offer,” said a mechanic at the depot.
“The TATA buses provide a maximum of 4 KMPL, whereas others provide 5.5 kmpl. Traffic is the main reason why TSRTC has to shell out a lot of money on fuel. The driver uses more of accelerator, breaks and clutch when in traffic leading to frequent wear and tear,” added a mechanic.
“TSRTC is tough on the quality of the spare parts, be it even a nut or a bolt,” said another engineer of a TSRTC depot. Often the bad quality spare parts are sent back and this causes some delay resulting in pending maintenance work.