Cash-strapped MSRTC to lease 500 regular buses from private operators
In an effort to reduce expenses for its daily operations, the debt-ridden Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) decided to lease 500 regular buses from private bus operators in the state.
A resolution on renting buses to transport passengers was presented by the MSRTC’s transportation department at a board meeting on Thursday, which was subsequently approved after discussion. A tender to select the private operator will be launched soon, officials said.
The move, however, is criticized by unions, with many calling it a step towards the “privatization” of the MSRTC.
Sources said 500 regular buses (non-air-conditioned and non-luxury) would be leased from private operators. The buses will be driven by the operator’s drivers and only the MSRTC drivers will be present to issue the tickets. The operators would be responsible for the maintenance of the buses and other related expenses.
“In a month or two, a call for tenders will be launched. A detailed study will be carried out before launching the tender, during which details such as duration, cost and region of operation will be decided, ”an official said, adding that the decision had been made. reduce the daily operating cost of the MSRTC fleet. .
The Indian Express reported in June how the MSRTC racked up losses of Rs 6,400 crore from April 2020 to May 2021 after its inter-district operations were affected by the lockdown and movement restrictions.
The company, which operates inter and intra-district public transport services, also faced a cash shortage before the foreclosure, with a debt burden of over Rs.3,500 crore. The shutdown of services during the shutdowns of last year and this year has seen this increase up to Rs 9,500 crore.
Recently, the state government sanctioned a Rs 600 crore relief program at the MSRTC to wipe out the wages of its employees.
“As the lifespan of more than 5,000 vehicles in its fleet of 19,000 vehicles draws to a close, the company urgently needs new vehicles. The loss of thousands of crores and the income accumulated during the lockdown made it impossible to purchase new vehicles and as a result this decision was made, ”another official said.
In deciding to hire private buses, the MSRTC has followed the lead of the Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation, which has taken 30 percent of its vehicles for hire. It is the only transport company in the country still profitable.