Soon, better bus services in 28 cities

Private lobby stymying efforts to run more KSRTC buses, says Transport department

People in 28 tier II and tier III cities can soon expect better local bus services, if all goes as planned by the Transport department. This may provide them some relief from fleecing autorickshaw drivers and private bus operators.

Under the transitional phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission scheme, the department is said to have sought the Centre’s assistance for the procurement of 815 new buses for the services. It requires Rs 224 crore for starting the services in the 28 cities.

Department officials claimed that the proposal put the State in the ‘pioneering’ category for reforms in public transport system. “We will be the first in the country to extend such a vast city-wide public transport system in one State,” said Transport department principal secretary P Ravi Kumar.

“The number of buses will vary from eight to 20 in each of these tier II and tier III cities. This will primarily depend on the distance to be covered in each city, apart from commuter demand,” said Kumar.

The smallest city to be covered is Yadgir. Other pilot cities where the department intends to launch city bus services are Tumkur, Hassan, Kolar, Bijapur and Raichur.

“In Tumkur, we have already launched the local bus facility and have received an overwhelming response. It will help a lot of commuters who depend on autorickshaws or private buses to reach their destinations,” he said.

Private operators’ lobby

In the longer format of bus services, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has been repeatedly denied permits to run more services due to the strong private bus operators’ lobby.

As per the department statistics, the Road Transport Officer’s (RTO) office has denied KSRTC additional permits in no less than 15 districts. In all, 2,610 RTC buses have been denied permits to ply. The largest number of permit applications has been filed in the Mangalore-Udupi region, with 828 bus routes still pending permission from the local RTO. In Tumkur, 456 RTC buses have been denied permits.

“The private bus lobby is working persistently against the RTC to ply their buses. We have repeatedly sought permits from the RTO offices, but in vain,” said Kumar. Most of the districts where the permits have been denied are in the southern and coastal parts of Karnataka.

“In the northern part, the roads are all nationalised and thus, there is better response from commuters and RTOs towards State-run buses. In the southern part, very few roads are nationalised, thus denying the RTCs an opportunity to ply the buses,” said the principal secretary.

According to Kumar, the department is trying to enter into a dialogue with private bus owners to allow them to increase the RTC fleet strength and provide better bus services.
Sources said that while KSRTC is ready to ply on these routes, no RTO has provided an audience to the State-run corporation to apprise it of its capabilities. In the past decade, the RTOs have completely sidelined the KSRTC representatives while discussing issues pertaining to providing permits for running additional buses in their jurisdictions.

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