Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Congested roads extract their toll

Congested roads extract their toll
DH News Service Bangalore:
Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation has incurred a loss of Rs 1.89 crore in 2006-07 by running the Volvo luxury buses.

The City’s congested roads have taken a heavy toll on Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation, with the corporation incurring a loss of Rs 1.89 crore in 2006-07 by running the Volvo luxury buses.

Due to heavy traffic jam on the roads, the operation cost per km of a Volvo bus has crossed Rs 52 a km, against Rs 20 a km for an ordinary bus in the City. “The volvo bus engine cannot be switched off at traffic signals and at bus stops, unlike a normal bus. It has to be in switched on mode until it reaches its destination. Hence, its fuel consumption is too high,” BMRC Chief Traffic Manager Dastagir Shariff told Deccan Herald .

BMTC has a fleet of 50 Volvos, each costing around Rs 76 lakh.

These are mainly plied to either posh residential localities like JP Nagar, Yelahanka, Indiranagar, Audugodi or Electronic City and ITPL from the Majestic bus station.

According to Mr Shariff, Volvos are high-capacity, fast-moving vehicles and they need dedicated lanes to run efficiently. “With Bangalore not having even one such lane, they (Volvos) have to move in the same congested traffic,” he pointed out.

Bad economics

This is the reason Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, which has a fleet of 150 Volvos, is making a profit through that fleet (Rs 7.12 crore).

A Volvo bus has to run for at least 350 km a day if it has to earn a profit.

But a BMTC bus runs only an average of 180 km a day. “Moreover, the response to the Volvos has not been up to the mark -- mainly due to its high fare.”

So, we slashed the fare by around 10 per cent recently,” Mr Shariff said.

To cope with the traffic jam, BMTC is holding talks with Bangalore Development Authority on a dedicated corridor to run the Volvos.

Presently, a feasibility study is under way for a stretch between Central Silk Board and Hebbal.

If this initiative becomes successful, operation of Volvos may become a profitable venture in future, he added.

20 more Volvos

Despite the hits it takes on the bottomline on account of these luxury buses, BMTC is planning to add 20 more Volvos to its existing fleet. These vehicles will be pressed into service shortly, Mr Shariff said.

“We have to have variety and options. The corporation has to keep pace with the image of Bangalore as an IT hub and so we will have to ply these buses,” he stated.


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