While attempts to give a lifeline to the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and revamp the system make headlines, several proposals and programmes that might help in reducing the expenses remain on paper.

The case is the same with the Kerala High Court’s directive to consider the deployment of conductors, who can also drive, in long distance buses. Currently, the long distance services by the KSRTC are operated with two drivers and one conductor on duty for each service.

For most of such services, tickets are reserved through advanced booking. So, the work of the conductor is relatively less tough compared to others. Employing staff who can play both the roles will help in reducing the cost of operating the services which are alleged to be running at a loss.

The Kerala High Court, in May 2011, had directed the KSRTC to consider the appointment of drivers-cum-conductors in long distance buses following a Public Interest Litigation. The High Court also suggested that if a conductor is a qualified driver, he can relieve the driver for sometime on long distance routes.

The High Court also observed that driving on Kerala roads continues to be a strenuous job particularly because of the potholes, and therefore, eight hours’ non-stop driving without rest might be tough for the driver. In another order dated December 18, 2012, the High Court again directed that the KSRTC should consider the proposal and pass orders in accordance with the procedure within three months from the date of the judgment. When contacted, executive director (Operations) K M Irshad said that the proposal was under consideration. “Discussions are being held on the matter between the authorities and the unions. A decision will be taken after all concerned reach into a consensus,” he said. From T’Puram, the KSRTC is currently operating long distance services to Mangalore, Bangalore and Mysore. Protests were also made in September by various political parties alleging a move to cancel long-distance buses such as the T’Puram-Bangalore Volvo service. Currently there are two drivers and one conductor who are on duty for the Thiruvananthapuram-Bangalore Volvo bus.

After completing a service, five duties are given for each driver and six for the conductor.

Once the KSRTC make arrangements to employ conductors who can drive buses in the event of necessity, the number of required staff can be reduced to two for each service.

New Indian Express