Now, private buses feel the pinch in metro corridor

The operation of metro trains in the Aluva-Palarivattom corridor in the past 10 days has made a dent in the revenue of private buses.

“The daily collection has gone down by approximately Rs. 500 and might lessen furtherwhen the metro is extended by another 5 km up to Maharaja’s College Ground,” said Navas K.M., designated partner of bus operators’ conclave ‘Kochi Wheelz United’, and an office-bearer of the Kerala Bus Transport Association (KBTA).

While an average of two buses are operated on the route every minute, carrying over 100 passengers, a metro train plies on the elevated corridor every eight minutes, with the potential to carry a maximum of 975 passengers. As on Wednesday, the average daily ridership of the metro was 66,340 passengers.

“There is a shortfall of over 60 passengers per day per bus, or 10 per trip on the Aluva-Edappally stretch, since this many commuters from Aluva to Lulu Mall have shifted to the metro.

Many others who board the metro from Aluva and alight at Palarivattom still largely depend on private buses to reach the city hub. But they rely on buses from other routes as well, further affecting the revenue of buses that are operated in the Aluva-city corridor,” Mr. Navas said.

Several buses will have to be rerouted from the corridor when the metro is extended to Maharaja’s College Ground.

This will depend on the analysis of revenue per bus prior to the metro’s commissioning on June 19 and afterwards, which will be done by July 20, he added.

Meanwhile, Kerala State Private Bus Operators Federation president M.B. Satyan confided that there was an approximately 10% fall in income from bus services in the past 10 days.

The silver lining is that the formation of limited liability partnerships (LLPs) like Kochi Wheelz has helped lessen operational expenses like cost of fuel and spare parts, said Mr. Navas.

“For instance, our LLP has arranged discount cards offered by HP, using which a bus owner gets Rs. 120 off on purchase of diesel worth Rs. 5,000, the average daily expense on fuel per bus,” he added.

Yet another revenue-leakage has been plugged, with LLPs deploying Kudumbasree workers as checking inspectors to prevent malpractices by bus conductors. “Many bus operators are saving up to Rs. 400 per bus on account of this,” said a bus owner.