The current financial crunch in the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has hurt even its bus acquisition process. The BMTC is unlikely to purchase new Volvo and air-conditioned buses in the near future.
In what appears to be a consequence of back-to-back losses in the financial year 2012-13 and 2013-14, the BMTC has been asked to “reassess” its requirements for Volvo and A/C buses.
The request to “reassess” has been made by the State government in the light of 310 A/C buses approved by the Centre under the JnNURM transition phase.
Sources in the transport department say the government is convinced that the BMTC should not procure the buses as the initial cost of each bus is not less than Rs 80 lakh.
It is said that even after purchasing the buses, the department will have to bear a massive running cost as the A/C buses are not fuel efficient under the present road conditions in Bangalore.
Bad roads have resulted in low mileage and increased pressure on the engines of Volvo buses, according to BMTC officials.
Further, officials say, the BMTC is unable to rationalise its present fleet of Volvo buses, thus raising question marks on the need to procure new A/C bus in the long term.
While the maximum demand has been in the northern parts of Bangalore, the eastern and western parts of the City have shown little or no response to the A/C buses.
BMTC officials attribute the demand in north Bangalore primarily to the Vayu Vajra services which take commuters to the Kempegowda International Airport.
Meantime, the transport department is set to ban the purchase of Tata Marcopolo buses due to their lack of fuel efficiency. Sources in the department said the present Tata Marcopolo buses had been giving the BMTC a severe headache due to their heavy maintenance costs and increased fuel consumption.
The BMTC even converted seven of the 91 such buses into ordinary buses but ran into major technical problems. Result: it is running the buses in a loss.