After losing crores of rupees due to the induction of uneconomic Tata Marcopolo buses into its fleet, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) is now extra cautious about purchasing buses of new variants in the future.
The 142 Tata Marcopolo buses inducted under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM) had become white elephants as they guzzled more fuel and yielded low mileage. The BMTC had 98 buses and the KSRTC 44. The buses were recently scrapped following a decision by the State Cabinet.
Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy has now instructed the BMTC to get all new variants of buses on a trial basis before inducting them into the fleet. Recently, the BMTC received 10 new variants of buses from Ashok Leyland on a trial basis. BMTC Managing Director Ekroop Caur said the corporation would go for trial runs of all new models of buses before deciding on inducting them. “The bus-manufacturing companies have happily agreed to do so. So in the future, before making the purchases, we will get the buses on trial,” she told Deccan Herald.
Tata Marcopolo buses were decided to be scrapped as they were causing a loss of Rs 1.5 crore a month to the BMTC and the KSRTC. But since the buses were purchased under the JnNURM, the corporations had to seek the Cabinet’s approval before scrapping them.
The buses, manufactured under a joint venture between Tata Motors and Marcopolo S A, Brazil, were first procured in 2008 under the JnNURM as the company was offering them at Rs 31 lakh apiece—just one-third of what another bus in the same segment would cost.
Initially, the buses received positive feedback from commuters as their fare was lower than other air-conditioned buses. The engine performed well for the first few thousand kilometers but fuel efficiency was low.
Later, however, the corporations started receiving complaints such as emission of dark smoke, engine noise and poor air-conditioning. To overcome the problem, the BMTC even experimented by removing air-conditioners from some of the buses and converting them into non-AC vehicles.
Five buses were converted thus but the experiment failed as few passengers preferred to travel in them, forcing the corporations to scrap all such vehicles.