KOCHI: At 11.20 am on a Monday, Sharada (name changed) waited for the bus to High Court Junction at the South Paravur only for it to arrive after 40 minutes, at 12 pm. The next night, she stood at the Kaloor to return to South Paravur. The bus never arrived. The buses plying along the Poothotta-High Court-Aluva routes fall under the Kochi Metropolitan Transport Cooperative Society Ltd (KMTC).
The society was launched under the All Kerala Bus Operators Forum (AKBOF) with Kochi Metro Rail Ltd as a stakeholder. Buses plying along the Metro Corridor were suffering a loss post the advent of the metro. KMTC was thus formed to resolve this and bring bus operators together. However, for the past one month, there is no end to complaints against these buses arriving late, refusing to take passengers and cancelling rides.
KMTC buses are to leave the starting point, the Poothotta bus stand, every five minutes. This has increased to 15-20 minutes in the past month, affecting commuters along the entire stretch badly. Bus drivers blame the traffic snarls at the Pettah Bridge, Vyttila and Kadavanthara Junction. AKBOF state president T K Raju confirms that blocks are indeed the reason.
“Earlier buses were diverted to the Vytilla underpass due to the construction of the flyover. Now they are rerouted to take a longer route through Palarivattom to reach the hub. Public transport goes by a fixed schedule. Authorities concerned must prioritise public transport. Instead of allowing buses to commute via the route, they’ve let private vehicles pass.
And buses have to take the longer route which results in a delay up to 15-30 minutes during peak hours. It has become worse during monsoon. Additional diesel is required. The buses are being run on losses in the past one month, by over `50,000,” said Raju, who is also the president of KMTC.
Revenue is largely affected when buses are unable to follow schedules. What is the explanation for refusal to take passengers and cancelling rides? “The same. When buses are unable to reach their final destination on time, they tend to skip taking commuters and avoid clashes with the buses after them,” said Raju. It is indeed a matter of concern.
Assistant Traffic Commissioner, East, said: “Route diversions were created due to the construction of the flyover. PWD was supposed to repair the underpass road which are dug for laying pipes. This creates an obstruction for heavy vehicles. We have even sent a letter to the PWD for the immediate restoration but they have been in vain.”