Third wave in Karnataka worries RTCs who are on the road to recovery

The financially distressed Road Transport Corporations that are on the path to recovery are worried about the growing number of COVID-19 cases

The financially distressed Road Transport Corporations (RTCs) that are on the path to recovery are worried about the growing number of COVID-19 cases. The impact of the third wave is already being felt, officials said andadded that if the State Government decides to enforce more restrictions, the RTCs would suffer financially.

A senior official of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) said that the average revenue generated was steadily increasing since October. In November, the average revenue per day touched ₹8.63 crore. In December too, the revenue was ₹8.85 crore.

“After COVID-19 cases started increasing, the State Government came out with night curfew and weekend curfew rules. This impacted the revenue collection. For example, on Saturday, the first day of weekend curfew, revenue dropped to ₹4.5 crore. During weekend curfew, due to lower ridership, we are operating 2,500 to 3,000 buses. If the cases continue to rise and the Government imposes more restrictions, thecorporation will suffer. We have no option but to follow the rules to contain the spread of the pandemic,” the official said.

Meanwhile, the number of services operated on inter-State routes have dropped drastically. “After Omicron casesbegan to be reported, the number of buses operated between Karnataka and States such as Kerala, Maharashtra were impacted. Now there are hardly a few buses operated to these two States from Bengaluru. Inter-State services to Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are operational but there is no demand for luxury services. It has been two years, there is no sign of improvement in operating luxury buses to neighbouring States,” the official said.

Officials of theBangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) said that the ridership marginally dropped after a rise in COVID -19 cases. Unlike the KSRTC, the BMTC did not run regular service during weekend curfew. “Our ridership touched up to 23 lakh per day and daily revenue generated was around ₹3 crore. Future operations will depend on what decision the State Government is going to take. If more restrictions are imposed, it will impact us as it happened earlier,” the official said.

The official added that for more than a week, the number of people using private vehicles to commute to Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) has increased and as a result people using Vayu Vajra services have dropped to some extent. However, the BMTC has not reduced schedules on KIA routes.

Taxi and auto drivers worried

The rising cases have also made taxi and auto drivers worried in the city. They say drivers in Bengaluru are not in a state to face curfews or lockdowns. “Drivers have to work daily to support their family. In the last two waves of the pandemic, we have suffered a lot. If a lockdow or a curfew is enforced only common people will suffer. How can we manage to pay the rent and daily expenses withoutany earnings”? said Ashok Kumar, an auto driver.

“The State Government has started enforcing the curfew. During the weekend curfew, I waited for hours to get a booking. All the rules are regulations applied for common people and nothing applicable for those in power or political class. If movement of the people is restricted, we will suffer this year too,” said Manjunath, a taxi driver.

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