KURTC will be given a new lease of life, says Biju Prabhakar

 thehindu.com  01/21/2021 19:34:34 

The six-year-old Kerala Urban Road Transport Corporation (KURTC) will be revived and given a new lease of life soon, simultaneous with the formation of KSRTC-SWIFT, a legally independent company for operating long-distance buses. This will bring about optimal utility of KURTCs fleet of 340 low-floor non-AC buses on city routes.

Most of these non-AC services were idling due to their low fuel efficiency and higher operation and maintenance expense as compared to regular buses operated by KSRTC, KURTCs parent organisation, said Biju Prabhakar, Chairman and Managing Director of KSRTC.

A decision has been taken to operate the 140-strong fleet of Tata Marco Polo buses of KURTC in Thiruvananthapuram city. Automatic gear system will be installed in the 200 Ashok Leyland rear-engine buses since repairing their manual gear system proved costly and drivers were finding it difficult to change gears. This had resulted in most of them idling in depots, although their engine is very good. Trial run of buses retrofitted with automatic gear was successfully completed in Thiruvananthapuram. More such buses will shortly turn automatic and resume their services, he said.

AC buses

The KURTC will be divested of the balance 190 AC buses, which will be brought under KSRTC-SWIFT, which would have under it all long-distance buses of the RTC. Over the past year, these low-floor AC buses  each of which costs 1 crore, together operated only 5.17 lakh km, as compared to their potential to operate 190 lakh km. Few complained when this many premium buses, which were procured under JNNURM scheme, were let to rust.

The seats of a few of these buses had been modified in order to provide a more comfortable ride. This improvisation will be done in other buses as well, Mr. Prabhakar said.

The resumption of services of KURTCs 340 non-AC buses will in turn improve chances of empanelled bus crew being regularised.

The agency, formed as per a Government Order, will also get a full-fledged bylaw to streamline its operations, sources in the agency said.

Urban transport

The KURTC, headquartered at Thevara, was formed in 2015 to array AC and non-AC low-floor buses which were procured largely using Central government funds, to usher in a qualitative change in urban public transport in Kerala. Sadly, it does not even have a full-time special officer to oversee its functioning. Official sources in KURTC said that the agencys daily services from Thevara fell to a mere 23 AC buses. The pandemic took a toll on patronage for AC buses, which too recorded fuel efficiency of just around 2.40 km per litre, they said.

In the absence of a dedicated team, the operation of KURTC buses was still controlled by KSRTCs operations wing, based in the State capital.

For now, we have been instructed to start the idling buses every few days and move them a little, so that they are in running condition. Low-floor buses, priced much higher than regular buses, would not have fallen out of demand if key features like GPS in them had been activated when they were launched over a decade ago, they added.

Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism

Dear subscriber,

Thank you!

Your support for our journalism is invaluable. Its a support for truth and fairness in journalism. It has helped us keep apace with events and happenings.

The Hindu has always stood for journalism that is in the public interest. At this difficult time, it becomes even more important that we have access to information that has a bearing on our health and well-being, our lives, and livelihoods. As a subscriber, you are not only a beneficiary of our work but also its enabler.

We also reiterate here the promise that our team of reporters, copy editors, fact-checkers, designers, and photographers will deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Suresh Nambath

« Go back