Monday, April 26, 2010

BMTC to rework Vajra, AC Suvarna bus services

BMTC to rework Vajra, AC Suvarna bus services

Anil Kumar Sastry
It is to increase frequency on routes where there is demand
BMTC operates 372 Vajra (Volvo) buses and 98 AC Suvarna buses as premium services

Rationalisation involves reducing Vajra routes to 40, AC Suvarna routes to eight

BANGALORE: Concerned over the poor response to its premium services — Vajra (Volvo) and Marcopolo air-conditioned buses (AC Suvarna) — on several routes, Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) is planning to rationalise their services to make them profitable.

The number of routes on which these premium buses run will be cut while increasing their frequency on routes where the response is good.

While BMTC has a fleet of 372 Volvos (Vajra) for city routes, it has 63 Volvos dedicated for Airport (Vayu Vajra) services in addition to 98 AC Suvarna coaches on city routes funded by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

A senior BMTC official said urban public transport across the world is heavily subsidised by governments as it is not a profit-making sector. In Bangalore too, the corporation introduced Volvo services to woo car users.

Instead of immediate monetary gains through these services, one has to look at the indirect social benefits in the form of reduced congestion, he said.

While the average loss from city Volvo services is around Rs. 14 per km, the loss from the Airport Special is around Rs. 8 a km.

Thus, every month, the corporation is losing at least Rs. 3 crore on account of operation of Volvo services.

Terming this as the social obligation towards improving road safety, the corporation has been asking the Government to make good the losses, the official said.

In this context, BMTC may reduce the number of Volvo routes from the present 65-70 to about 40.

The buses on heavy loss-making routes will be redeployed on routes which are bringing moderate revenue, thereby ensuring more frequency on such routes.

The corporation expects more passengers as the buses will ply at a high frequency. Similarly, the number of routes on which AC Suvarna is being operated is to be reduced from 20 to eight, the official said.

BMTC feels that the five corridors on which buses operated on high frequency during Bus Days could be the potential routes for increasing the frequency.

If not for profit, BMTC hopes to at least recover the cost of operation with this move.

With the corporation reducing the premium monthly pass rates from Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 1,250, the sale has picked up and nearly 6,000 passes are purchasedevery month, said another BMTC official.

He said the sale of day passes, priced at Rs. 75, has also picked up touching 1,500.

Holders of these passes can travel on any BMTC service except the Airport Special.


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