Alternative route: KSRTC incurs Rs 3-cr loss

Alternative route: KSRTC incurs Rs 3-cr loss

A KSRTC Volvo bus negotiating a sharp curve near Kalasa.

At the sixth and final treacherous curve on the Kalasa-Karnataka Road, the driver stopped. The conductor, knowing exactly what to do, alighted from the vehicle.

Guided by the conductor’s hand signals, the driver delicately negotiated the curve.

With dawn barely cracking in the horizon, most passengers were fast asleep inside the KSRTC multi-axle premium bus plying from Bengaluru to Mangaluru via Kudremukh and missed the hand-eye coordination skills of the driver and conductor. Also, Shiradi and Sampaje Ghats both remaining out of bounds, the KSRTC Mangaluru Division premium buses have been operating on the only alternative route, Bengaluru-Kudremukh-Mangaluru, for a month now.

Rs 3 crore loss

The premium bus operation on the new route has caused the KSRTC Mangaluru Division a whopping loss of about Rs three crore.

“The Division operates 31 departures, including six AC sleeper buses – which is the highest in the state after the Bengaluru Central Division,” KSRTC Mangaluru Division Divisional Controller Deepak Kumar M informed DH.

“The distance between Mangaluru and Bengaluru via Shiradi Ghats was around 361 km. When the buses were forced to ply on the Madikeri-Sampaje route, the distance increased to 400 km. Now, on the new route, the premium buses have been guzzling more fuel – over 50 litres of diesel a trip – as they have to cover 438 km. A huge chunk of operation loss is from diesel consumption alone,” Deepak Kumar said.

When massive landslides on Shiradi and Sampaje Ghats disrupted the operation of their premium buses in the third week of August, Deepak Kumar decided to explore a feasible alternative route. “With trains and flights too remaining inaccessible, the public kept mounting the pressure on us to resume bus services to Bengaluru,” he explained.

Trial run

After participating in the Independence Day celebrations, KSRTC Mangaluru Division DC personally supervised the new route. On the following morning, Mangaluru Division conducted a trial run with an empty bus. Once the KSRTC staff members were convinced about the new route, a premium bus with 35 passengers left for Bengaluru on morning of August 17. Two days later, three buses were operated at night. The Bengaluru Central Division, which operates five departures to Mangaluru from Bengaluru, also has estimated the operational loss to being over Rs two lakh.

In order to reduce losses, the fare of premium buses were modestly hiked by Rs 100, informed Deepak Kumar, who is now apprehensive that continued operations on the new route would have a negative impact on their gross revenue at the end of the fiscal year.

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