10,020 old buses will be phased out in a year, says TN transport Minister SS Sivasankar

During the five years of DMK rule between 2006 and 2011, as many as 15,005 new buses were procured for the transport corporations.
Salem New Bus Stand or Bharat Ratna Dr. M.G.R. Central Bus Stand
Salem New Bus Stand or Bharat Ratna Dr. M.G.R. Central Bus Stand (Photo | Express)

TIRUCHY: Identifying 10,020 of the total 20,116 buses under the state’s transport corporations as overaged, Transport Minister SS Sivasankar said they would be phased out to make way for the induction of a mix including e-buses, low-floor coaches, refurbished and retrofitted buses converted to run on LNG and CNG fuel technologies. All these would be done as part of the modernisation plan that would be implemented within a year, assured the minister in an interview to TNIE.

Blaming the previous AIADMK government for the condition several of the current buses are in, which has also drawn flak from various quarters, the minister said, “They failed to procure an adequate number of new buses for which we are facing the heat now.”

During the five years of DMK rule between 2006 and 2011, as many as 15,005 new buses were procured for the transport corporations. A total of 14,489 buses were, however, only brought in all of the AIADMK’s 10 years of continuous ruling since 2011, Sivasankar said. The department requires some more time to address the gap, he added.

Mentioning the incumbent DMK government having allotted funds to procure 7,682 new buses the minister said, “This includes procurement of 2,166 buses and 500 e-buses with financial assistance from German-based bank KfW, and another 16 buses under the special area development programme (SADP). Apart from this, 1500 old buses that are fit enough are undergoing refurbishment. “

Of the 7,682 new buses, 832 have already hit the roads as on May 31. Further, out of the 1,500 buses undergoing refurbishment, 860 have been inducted into the fleet, the minister said.

Pointing out that 10,020 buses of the total fleet operated by all the eight transport corporations in the state have been identified as ‘overaged’, Sivasankar said the immediate task of the transport department is hence to take the old vehicles off the roads.

As per new norms formulated in 2021, buses of state express transport corporation (SETC) are overaged and should be replaced at the end of seven years or on completion of 12 lakh kilometres, whichever comes earlier. Similarly, the buses of all other state transport corporations should be replaced at the end of nine years or on completion of 12 lakh kilometres.

“We are inducting new buses as and when they are supplied by the manufacturers. This includes 552 low-floor buses in the first phase to facilitate smoother travel for the elderly and persons with disabilities. A majority of these low-floor buses will be inducted in Chennai while the rest will be put in use in cities like Coimbatore, Madurai and Tiruchy,” he added.

With these steps, the issue of overaged buses should be sorted out in six months, Sivasankar said.

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