As part of the preparations for the Sabarimala season which will begin by mid-November, five new buses will be deployed at Ernakulam depot to assist pilgrims who arrive here.
The decision was taken at a meeting held by KSRTC Executive Director (Operations) K M Irshad at the depot on Saturday. The buses will arrive in a couple of days and the services will begin by November 16.
“As per plan, 10 buses will be deployed in the first phase to operate as special services to Pampa from Ernakulam depot. Once there is a rise in the number of pilgrims, more buses will be allotted to us. We plan to operate at least five to eight ‘Ernakulam-Pampa special services’ initially. The number of services will be raised at a later stage depending on the rush,” Ernakulam ATO C K Radhakrishnan said.
The buses will be stationed at Ernakulam Junction station. The KSRTC will seek permission from the Ernakulam Area Manager’s office to station the buses on the premises. Officials said the special services will not halt anywhere in between. Special chartered services will also be operated by the KSRTC as was done last year. Chartered services can be hired by a group of 40 or so pilgrims at a fixed amount.
They only need to book it a few days in advance. The KSRTC will operate such chartered services within 10-km distance of the specific depot. This is expected to cash in revenue for the KSRTC. The bus services will be operated from 9 am to 9 pm from Ernakulam depot.The total fare for the service between Ernakulam and Pampa for Superfast bus is Rs 149, whereas that for Fast Passenger bus is Rs 141.
Last year, the fare for Superfast service between Ernakulam and Pampa was Rs 133 and Fast Passenger was `126. Unlike in the previous years, the KSRTC has not rolled out any new bus for Sabarimala season.
The so-called ‘new buses’ have been roped in from several depots in the state. New buses were rolled out after the Onam season and were in use as spare or normal buses for the past one month.
“Usually, hundred new buses are rolled out exclusively for Sabarimala season. After the season, these are then rolled out to other depots. The management is suffering from acute shortage of funds to roll out new buses,” official sources with the KSRTC said. A total of 100 ‘new’ such buses will be operated between Pampa and Erumely. 150 buses will be operated to Pampa from the pooling stations.
New Indian Express