The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) is in two minds on what to do with the unproductive Tata Marcopolo buses in its fleet.
The BMTC had introduced the buses in 2008, and now has 96 of them in its fleet. But its decision has been criticised. The BMTC loses Rs 20 per km on each bus, according to officials. There have been complaints of frequent breakdown and that the buses emit too much smoke.
Looking to make the buses productive, the BMTC has now converted two of them into non-AC variants to check if their mileage goes up.
The experiment is only on a trial basis. Their AC ducts and compressor removed, the vehicles are plying as no-AC buses. BMTC officials said the productivity of the buses had improved and there were fewer breakdowns and increased mileage.
“The windows in the two buses can be opened. The results have been positive, but we are still monitoring them,” the BMTC’s director (IT), Kumar Pushkar, told Deccan Herald.
He said the BMTC had three options: to convert all buses into non-AC variants, remove them from the fleet or increase the fare to reduce the losses. “One of these options will be decided at an appropriate time by the competent authority,” he added.
Sources said the buses were originally supposed to be non-AC, but Tata Marcopolo’s customers, including the BMTC—after finding that the bus body and other features were on a par with other premium segment buses—insisted that they be air-conditioned.
The BMTC procured the Tata Marcopolo buses under the JnNURM. The buses were much cheaper than similar AC buses manufactured by Volvo and Corona. While a Volvo bus costs Rs 80-90 lakh, a Corono bus comes at Rs 55-65 lakh.
But passengers have complained of high noise levels in the Tata Marcopolo buses, their erratic AC, over-heating at the back, high smoke emission and frequent breakdowns. Even the interiors of the bus have not been found very appealing.