HYDERABAD: The crisis in the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) has begun pinching the citizens now. About 80 of the 120 AC buses which were plying on city routes have been eased out and put on profit-making inter-district routes.
The TSRTC officials, who are working overtime to minimise losses that the public sector behemoth has been incurring, decided that the AC buses plying in Hyderabad have become white elephants. After COVID-19 hit the State, software companies had asked their employees, who used to patronise these AC buses, to work from home. As a result, the corporation slid into further losses.
Even now, up to 75 per cent of IT employees are working from home, though a near normalcy has been restored in all other sectors. The loss of patronage has been causing a major haemorrhage of funds for the corporation.
The officials, who want to enhance the kilometre per litre figures, are now satisfied that AC buses, which are clocking longer distances, have better fuel efficiency.The 80 AC buses that have been eased out of city routes are high-end Volvo buses which were procured at a cost of Rs 1.3 crore each back in 2010.
After putting 80 AC buses plying in the city on profit-making inter-district routes, TSRTC officials have pointed to the difference in mileage in both cases as the reason. "If these buses are operated on long-distance routes, we could get a mileage of more than 3.5 KMPL. It does not cross even 2 kmpl in the city. In recent years, there has been an increase in patronage for AC buses in districts," said a senior TSRTC official.
Even before the pandemic struck, the RTC’s two-month-old strike made the IT employees get used to travelling by metro rail. Even when the strike ended, the IT employees did not switch back to buses, belying expectations to the contrary, which led to a drastic drop in the number of passengers who travelled by AC buses.
As a result, the revenues dropped from Rs 60 per km to Rs 15 per km for a bus, and after the second wave of the pandemic receded, it further slid down to Rs 10. "From Uppal alone, 10 buses used to be operated and they would fetch a good revenue. We could have continued them, but the price of diesel, which went up by almost 50 per cent in a year, has made the operation of these buses non viable," the TSRTC official added.
These buses are part of the fleet which joined RTC before the formation of Telangana, under the JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) scheme.