HYDERABAD: Standing at an RTC bus stop near Indira Park, Mahitha P looked visibly hesitant in boarding the overcrowded RTC bus to Uppal. The bus, without Mahitha and with college students clinging to every inch of the available space, finally left the bus stop.
The 23-year-old engineering graduate Mahitha instead booked a cab. “I don’t want to get groped in that crowd,” she said.
The Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) boasts of operating as many as 3,519 buses in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) area alone on a daily basis. But commuters feel the numbers are less.
TSRTC identifies the hours between 7 am and 11 am and 4 pm and 9 pm during peak hours. They divert more buses to cater to the demand during these hours. However, officials attribute the shortage of buses felt by commuters to traffic and bottlenecks resulting out of metro rail construction works.
“We do increase the frequency of buses during peak hours but traffic jams greatly affect the frequency,” said P Jeevan Prasad, deputy chief traffic manager (S&B) of TSRTC. Buses could lose up to 20 minutes at a signal or a traffic jam leading to more passengers boarding a single bus. This is one of the main reasons behind overcrowding, he added.
Speaking on the issue of shortage of buses, Prasad said, “We cannot increase the number of buses from what we already have. The non-peak hours see a drop in passenger footfall, hence bus frequency is scaled down. We have to manage both the operational cost of our capacity to generate revenue.”
The delay in buses reaching commuters due to traffic is costing the corporation heavily. The driver-and-conductor duo work for seven hours straight. “I am able to get 250 km out of a bus in rural areas but in the city, I hardly manage to get 120 km in a single shift,” said the deputy chief traffic manager.
TSRTC plans to connect one end of the city to another through long route buses, thus cutting down intermediate transfer points. There are also plans are also on to decentralise bus terminals to avoid road congestions, traffic jams and overcrowding. (Concluded)