Tamil Nadu Minister Sivasankar blames Covid for delay in procuring buses

Sivasankar said 7,682 new buses are in different stages of procurement and will be inducted into the fleet before April 2025.
The badly damaged seat of an MTC bus at Korattur bus stand in Chennai
The badly damaged seat of an MTC bus at Korattur bus stand in Chennai File Photo

CHENNAI: Transport Minister S S Sivasankar on Wednesday said the number of overaged buses in the fleet of eight transport corporations have increased mainly due to delay in procuring the vehicles on account of the Covid-19 lockdown. The department is now taking necessary measures to replace the worn out buses, he said.

He was responding to a statement issued by leader of the opposition and AIADMK general secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami on Tuesday. Palaniswami had alleged that since the government buses are poorly maintained, they have worn out and are endangering the lives of commuters.

Sivasankar said 7,682 new buses are in different stages of procurement and will be inducted into the fleet before April 2025. He further said 300 new buses are being added to the fleet of transport corporations every month. “Additionally, there are plans to introduce 1,000 electric buses in Chennai under a Gross Cost Contract (GCC) model. Furthermore, 1,500 buses, which are six years old, are undergoing renovation and will soon be reintroduced into service,” he said.

Sivasankar further pointed out during the AIADMK’s tenure from 2011 to 2021, the state government’s loan assistance to transport undertakings was Rs 2,349.47 crore per year. However, during the DMK rule from 2021 to 2024, this surged to Rs 7,375.68 crore per year.

On an average, 1,201 people were killed every year in road accidents involving government buses during the AIADMK regime. However, this has decreased to 911 per year during the DMK’s rule from 2021 to 2024, Sivasankar added.

What EPS said

Palaniswami on Tuesday claimed though the transport minister has been making frequent announcements about buying new buses including e-buses, but nothing has happened so far. He said, “In Tamil Nadu, 80% of the public transport is run by the government, benefitting poor people.” He said during the previous AIADMK regimes, buses for public transport were replaced frequently and a specific life time was fixed for the vehicles. “However, during the past three years of the DMK regime, new buses have not been bought and badly damaged buses are being operated,” he added.

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