Karnataka bus services hit hard

Bengaluru, March 19 : Coronavirus-induced shutdown and pandemic fear have hit hard the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), according to an official, here on Thursday.

"Coronavirus scare has crashed our daily bus seat bookings 16 per cent, causing a daily loss of Rs 1 crore.

During March 1-14, we lost nearly Rs 9 crore in earnings," KSRTC Chief Traffic Inspector Prabakar Reddy told IANS.

The pandemic first struck KSRTC's premium air-conditioned bus service, forcing it to pull out 20-25 buses from service a day during March 1 to 8.

"Later the fear of COVID-19 led to cancelling of nearly 100 buses a day till March 14.

Once the shutdown was announced on Saturday, the virus interrupted our express and regular services as well," said Reddy.

From withdrawing 500 buses a day in the first three days after the shutdown, cancellations rose to 800, and 1,100 now, idling that many buses of the 8,200-vehicle fleet.

The KSRTC had suffered Rs 25 crore loss till Thursday in March due to coronavirus-forced interruption in services.

"The transporter is staring at a bleak future. A quick antidote would be the return of passengers, which may happen only if no positive cases emerge for four-five days," said Reddy.

The traffic manager said the KSRTC suffered 4,000-seat cancellations on the day four coronavirus positive cases emerged in the city.

"The news of positive cases is bad news for our operations.

If some four persons test positive, that day our bookings fall suddenly. I am hopeful there will be no new cases for a stretch of four-five days. It will bode well and reverse the trend," Reddy said.

On Wednesday, three new positive cases were confirmed in Bengaluru.

Operating in 16 southern districts of Karnataka, the KSRTC normally has a 6 per cent cancellation rate.

Meanwhile, the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), the city bus operator, has withdrawn 1,519 buses from the 6,185-vehicle fleet.

"The BMTC has incurred Rs 6 crore loss in March due to coronavirus," a spokesperson told IANS.

On Thursday, the usual bustle at Shanti Nagar bus station in the city was missing, with empty chairs, vacant bus lanes and shuttered shops.

Similarly, the South Western Railway (SWR) zone has continued to cancel trains.

Nine trains were cancelled on Thursday to places like Hubbali, Pandharpur, Renigunta, Mangaluru, Belagavi and others.

The Mysuru-Belagavi Vishwamanava Express has been cancelled till April 1.



Source: IANS