CHENNAI: Due to soaring diesel prices and other reasons, the State transport corporations have been collectively incurring a loss of more than Rs 500 crore per month over the past few months. While the fleet strength of eight government-run transport corporations in the State has not been reduced, officials said a study is on to rationalise routes to improve earnings.
As per official data accessed by TNIE, as of February 2020, during pre-Covid days, transport corporations were registering a loss of Rs 12.92 crore per day. About 16.2 lakh litres of diesel was being bought every day during that period at a cost of Rs 68.32 per litre.
With diesel price touching Rs 100.91 a litre as on April 15, per-day loss incurred by transport corporations now stands at Rs 17 to Rs 18 crore a day. According to Transport Minister S S Sivasankar, “On an average, the eight transport corporations face Rs 500 crore loss every month. The per-day loss varies depending on fleet strength on a given day. The share of fuel cost in operational expenses is more than 50%.”
According to official sources, the fleet strength of eight transport corporations is 19,300, and bus services have not been reduced in any corporation. Bus fare was last hiked in January 2018. With a fleet capacity of 21,500 buses, the eight transport corporations carried over 2.1 crore commuters a day. Within a year, owing to fund crunch and mounting debts and shortage of drivers and conductors, bus services were cut by 30% bringing down the per-day patronage to 1.14 crore in March 2019.
‘Conducting a study on route rationalisation’
When lockdown restrictions were withdrawn in February 2021, about 16,500 buses resumed service and patronage stood at 75 lakh commuters a day. Minister Sivasankar said a route rationalisation study is being conducted and efforts are being taken to enhance earnings and improve patronage.
“The per-day patronage is yet to reach the pre-Covid level. We are working on it,” he said. Being a service sector, transport corporations provide affordable service to people in rural and urban areas, Sivasankar said.
Arumuga Nainar, general secretary, transport employees federation affiliated to the CITU, said, “Government must expedite recruitment process for drivers and conductors and fill vacancies. Only then new buses can be introduced on routes with high patronage and revenue can be improved. “