Friday, June 04, 2010

KSRTC Volvos premium only in name

KSRTC Volvos premium only in name

Anil Kumar Sastry
Maintenance of many Airavat, Rajahamsa buses is poor
30 Airavats have clocked 10 lakh km and are in need of overhaul

All buses are running full, there could be delay in fixing minor problems: KSRTC managing director

BANGALORE: Sudhir Prasad, a software engineer, boarded an Airavat (Volvo) of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation from Bangalore to his hometown Kundapur recently.

He had to attend a family function the next morning after the previous day's hectic work and was confident that the ride on the Airavat would be comfortable.

However, when the bus passed the city roads, he began to hear rattling sounds beneath the front wheels. While he had anticipated a faster journey, the so-called superfast Airavat crawled even as other buses overtook him.

After an hour's traffic jam near Sakleshpur owing to an accident, he reached Kundapur at about 9.30 a.m., 12 hours after he began the journey.

The journey, which should have taken nine hours and in a comfortable manner, will remain in Mr. Prasad's memory.

“I had taken this bus paying a hefty fare (Rs. 575) expecting a pleasant journey. Had I known the condition of the vehicle earlier, I wouldn't have boarded the bus,” he said. Mr. Prasad said at least his experience was better than that of one of his friends who had boarded another Airavat to Kundapur which left 20 minutes before the departure of his bus the same night. The entire rear portion of that bus, where the engine and the air-conditioner are located, was rattling throughout the journey, Mr. Prasad 0said.

Sources in KSRTC said of the 323 Airavat buses, about 30 have clocked 10 lakh km and are badly in need of overhaul.

The corporation should have inducted about 60 Rajahamsa buses by this time but only 20 have been absorbed into service.

Divisional officials were reluctant to shunt out old buses since May is a peak season, they said.

CAG report

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India in its report on KSRTC, NEKRTC and NWKRTC for 2008-09, had pointed out abnormal delay in regular maintenance of buses.

It had said the percentage of on-time preventive maintenance had come down from 76.07 in 2004-05 to 52.37 in 2008-09.

Also, there was abnormal delay in undertaking repairs of buses which were to obtain fitness certificates from RTO authorities, the report had said.

Passenger comfort

KSRTC Managing Director Gaurav Gupta said the corporation was aware of the bad condition of some of the buses and has been addressing the issue.

The corporation, he said, was committed to ensuring passenger comfort.

Reconditioned

About 20 Airavat buses in Mangalore Division have been reconditioned and another 20 will be reconditioned soon, he said. Since it is peak season, all the buses are running full and there could be a little delay in fixing minor problems, he said.

As per international practice, Volvo buses should be scrapped after they clock 30 lakh km.

This can come down to 15 to 20 lakh km in India due to bad road conditions, Mr. Gupta added.

Airavat buses were under annual maintenance contract with the Volvo Buses (India) earlier. As and when the contracts expired, Volvo expressed its inability to continue servicing and instead provided technical supervision at Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore, Mr. Gupta said.

Report

Mr. Gupta said the CAG report is based on the inputs provided by the corporation itself.

To address maintenance-related issues, KSRTC has already appointed 1,500 mechanics in 2008 and will appoint another 1,500 this year, he said.

‘Will take action'

If there are any lapses in the maintenance of buses, suitable action will be initiated against those concerned, Mr. Gupta said.

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