Seeing huge revenue losses as the COVID-19 pandemic erodes their daily operations, officials at the head of the AP State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) are trying to pull themselves together.
Hopes of resuming interstate bus services with neighboring states have faded, especially after the long-awaited deal with Telangana RTC came to an end.
Where is parity going?
Sources say that by signing up to the interstate deal, Telangana inflicted an annual loss of at least ₹ 260 crore on Andhra Pradesh on the parity issue.
Prior to the lockdown, the APSRTC operated 1,009 buses to Telangana, but had to reduce the number to 638 under the new deal while Telangana increased the number of its AP buses from 746 to 822.
The issue of parity has cost the APSRTC dearly, which had to cut 371 buses to Telangana while the latter now operates 72 additional buses to Andhra Pradesh.
In the new agreement, AP buses operate on 13 routes in Telangana, against the latter using its buses on 33 routes in AP.
On the key Vijayawada-Hyderabad road, the APSRTC, which operated 139 buses until March 22, is now only allowed to operate 75 buses. On the contrary, TSRTC has increased its buses from 89 to 200 on the route.
To make up for what was lost in the deal with Telangana, APSRTC officials are trying to find alternative sources of income generation.
“We want to increase the volume of operations, and this has been passed on to the government. We also want to reposition bus services within the state, ”said KS Brahmananda Reddy, Executive Director (Operations).
Emphasis is currently placed on the restoration of the “Express” buses rented in the state from December 1.
At a recent meeting of directors general and regional directors, officials were asked to thoroughly inspect buses for mechanical fitness, maintenance, seat padding and safety aspects by means of a road test on 5 km while the vehicles would be put to use after an interval of more than eight months.
Mr Reddy said that so far, a total of 298 buses have been confirmed.
Private operators making hay
Expressing concern that reducing the number of APSRTC buses on important routes has given private bus operators ample leeway to seize the opportunity and operate their contract cars as stage cars in violation of the regulation , leaders of the Department of Public Transport. The union urged the government to blow the whip on them.
“The only way to solve the problem is to add new buses to the APSRTC fleet and cover all possible areas, without giving scope to private operators. Taking advantage of the situation, 750 private buses are operating, eating away at the RTC’s income, ”said P. Damodar Rao, general secretary of the union.