Commuters who were looking foward to more services after the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) added 625 new buses to its fleet this year, will have to wait longer as one-third of
the buses acquired will only replace the existing and nearly 400 are lying idle at various workshops across the state.

An Ashok Leyland Bus Chassis @ Edappal RW

The 230 buses which have been fitted with chassis will be used to replace the buses that have neared or crossed their life spans.

“A lot of our buses need replacement especially in the fast passenger and above categories which have a maximum life of five years under the Kerala Motor Vehicle Act.

We are replacing all of them with the 230 new buses we have bought,” says KSRTC managing director, K.G. Mohanlal.

The corporation has a large fleet of buses that have outlived their life span as it briefly stopped buying new buses in October 2010 and put the old ones, destined to be scrapped, back on the roads.

KSRTC Bus Body Building Under Progress In Regional Workshop, Edappal

It also continued to rely on more of the old as its proposal for a 1000 new buses was trimmed to 700.
Meanwhile work on building the chassis of the remaining new 400 buses is lagging behind due to acute shortage of material, mainly square tubes.

“For one bus we need around 700 kgs of steel. The problem is that it’s not readily available in the market as a specific category of square tube is required,” says an officer of the mechanical department, adding, “Till last year, the raw-material supplier was Steel Industries Limited Kerala (SILK), the state-owned steel manufacturing company. But it did not participate in the latest tender, as it was probably unhappy with the pending dues.

Two or three private companies agreed to supply the materials but later differences arose over the rates. Now the matter is before the courts.”

For the 230 buses, including the ‘Rajdhani’ and MLA services, the metal body was procured locally. Besides shortage of material, lack of staff too is delaying the rolling out of the 400 new buses for public use.

Source: Deccan Chronicle