Eight state road transport undertakings (SRTUs) operating in metropolitan cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata incurred loss of nearly Rs 5,744 crore during 2014-15. This was more than 50% of the total loss that 46 SRTUs running across the country recorded during the same period.

This trend has triggered a debate on the manner in which government bus services in major cities are managed and the need to revamp their operations to make them self-sufficient. “Many SRTUs ply buses on stretches that are financially unviable, still they seem to be doing well. But entities operating buses in big cities registering more loss is a matter of concern,” a government official said.

According to the latest report on comparative performance of SRTUs prepared by Centre’s transport research wing, Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) with highest number of government-owned buses among all metro cities, earned maximum revenue in 2014-15 and carried nearly 194 crore passengers. But Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), which had the second largest fleet, ranked fourth in revenue earning among the eight SRTUs.

This is despite the fact that the share of staff and lubricant cost in the total expenditure by DTC was lowest among all the eight entities at 26.05% and 9.11% respectively. According to the report, about 55% of DTC’s total expenditure was on account of interest payment. Except for DTC, for the other seven SRTUs, staff cost comprised the largest share, ranging between 40% and 70% of total expenses.

Among the eight SRTUs, Calcutta State Transport Corporation earned the least revenue of Rs 72.5 crore.