Kerala family operates bus service on their own, hopes to get a good ‘Varavelpu’

Sunilkumar has been running the bus service for the past 20 years.

Published: 22nd June 2021 06:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd June 2021 06:59 AM   |  A+A-

T S Sunilkumar, daughter Archa and wife Ramya near their bus

By Express News Service

KOTTAYAM: The passengers who got into the private bus, ‘Aarcha’, that operates between Pathinaarilchira near Kottayam town and Government Medical College Hospital in Arppookkara on Friday were in for a surprise. The bus was driven by its owner, while travel tickets were distributed by his wife and their daughter was the door checker. The 1989 movie ‘Varavelpu’ scripted by Sreenivasan and directed by Sathyan Anthikad had well depicted the difficulties being faced by a Gulf-returned private bus owner in an adverse political climate in Kerala.

If that was on reel, the real-life story of a private bus owner in Kottayam well narrates the predicament of a common man in Covid-ravaged economy. Forced by the financial difficulties, T S Sunilkumar, hailing from Pathinaarilchira, decided to resume his bus service without employing a staff from outside after the state government eased Covid-related restrictions last week. “The income from the bus is the only revenue source of my family. However, the daily revenue from the bus has sharply declined.

Employing a staff is not viable taking into account the low revenue at present,” Sunilkumar said. According to him, the total collection he got on Friday was Rs 2,600, of which Rs 1,900 was spent on diesel. As his wife Ramya and daughter Archa worked as conductor and door-checker, Sunil got at least Rs 700 after the expenses that day. “Before the Covid outbreak, the daily collection was between Rs 7,000 and Rs 8,000. We could set apart around Rs 2,000-2,500 after all expenses, including the wages of the driver and conductor,” he said.

Sunilkumar has been running the bus service for the past 20 years. He said he has never undergone such a difficult situation in his life. Earlier, the driver and the conductor were given Rs 965 and Rs 850, respectively, per day. During the first Covid wave, the driver’s remuneration was cut short to Rs 600 per day and Sunilkumar himself became the conductor. “But, in the  second wave, I am unable to employ even a driver. So I decided to drive the bus on my own and sought my family’s help to operate the service,” he said.


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