Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) can justifiably be proud of its services, operating some of the swankiest buses in the country, which carry around five lakh commuters every day. But the same BMTC cannot be proud of the handling of its finances, particularly the way it has allegedly misused funds that should have been used to benefit employees. It appears that even though the corporation has been deducting money from employees' salaries towards insurance premiums, it has not deposited the same with the Life Insurance Corporation of India for the past several months. The 34,000-strong staff is worried that if BMTC does not clear the arrears, along with penalty, immediately, the policies could lapse, thus robbing them and their families of insurance cover. The union representing the employees has charged that there is no transparency in the finances and operations of BMTC, and since the corporation is running under a huge loss, it might have diverted the employees' contributions to other purposes. The union has also charged that it is not the first time that such diversion has taken place, putting the employees' interests in jeopardy.
BMTC operates some 6,400 vehicles, covering 11.36 lakh km per day with a daily collection of Rs 4.9 crore. But, with increasing competition from the Metro and the private buses - which run illegal services in some areas with the connivance of transport officials and the police - BMTC's revenue has shown a negative growth of 2.4% in recent times. BMTC is also burdened with issuing concessional passes to thousands of school and college-going students, which is only partly offset by the government. In June 2016, BMTC workers went on a snap strike in support of their demand for wage revision, and the regular commuters had a harrowing time reaching their offices and destinations. The strike ended with the government endorsing a pay hike of 12.5%. But there is simmering discontent among employees that the salary arrears, due for 18 months, are yet to be paid.
Accepting the fact that BMTC's finances are in a mess, the corporation's chairman, Nagaraj Yadav, has directed senior managers of BMTC to clear employees' dues, including payment of insurance premiums, at the earliest. No doubt, BMTC is the most modern public transport service in the country, having won several
national awards for safety, digitisation and for introducing commuter-friendly applications. Recently, it launched a mobile app which provides commuters with information about bus routes, stops and real-time location of buses. With a greater focus on operational efficiency and financial management, BMTC can surely keep both its employees and commuters happy.