Here’s a shocker about the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation’s (KSRTC) AC Volvo buses in the district. The Ernakulam depot had to spend Rs 14 lakh on maintenance of these low-floor buses in October, while earning about Rs 4.5 lakh. This huge loss has now forced managing director K J Mohanlal to seek an explanation from the depot officials on why the maintenance cost has suddenly increased.

Last October, KSRTC paid Rs 14 lakh to Vista, the company which undertakes maintenance of these buses. “Currently, we collect Rs 15,000 on an average from running 300km per day. But accident repairs and maintenance negates this,” admitted Jaya Mohan, general controlling inspector, KSRTC, Kochi.

The officials at Ernakulam depot blamed heavy traffic congestion and bad roads there were constant complaints of wear and tear. “The cost of repairing a broken front glass alone is about Rs 45,000. Also, the engine and air suspension system are frequently damaged. The airconditioning systems in the bus are also carelessly handled by the public. And most of the hand-rests, which costs at least Rs 400, are damaged by passengers,” said a KSRTC employee.

There are 50 AC low-floor buses in the depot. “Every month, we spent Rs 1 lakh on maintenance. However, last year in October we had to spend Rs 14 lakh for the same.

Going by the figures, we will be spending over Rs 24 lakh on maintenance of low-floor buses this year, which is almost half of what we earn from these buses. Almost 70% of what we earn goes for diesel. This year due to high maintenance cost, we will incur heavy losses,” said an official from KSRTC. Officials blamed the crisis on the non-availability of spare parts which had to be imported. Repairing worn-out parts is impractical as the depot does not have required supplies or trained hands. “At times, we are forced to use the 36watt house hold tubes instead of Volvo originals,” said in-charge of Volvo bus maintenance at the depot.

“In order to make good the loss, the present AC low-floor bus services will be rescheduled after the Thiru Kochi services are revised,” said Mohan. Unlike Thiruvananthapuram that runs 30 low floor AC buses in the city, Kochi has 80 buses on Muvattupuzha, Kothamangalam, Piravom, Angamaly, Aroor, Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, and Koothatukulam routes.

Times of India