The Bhopal Bus Operation, once considered among the most successful models in India and had received four awards for its operation until 2014, is now facing a predicament because of decreasing royalties and poorly maintained vehicles.
Three bus operators function under Bhopal City Link Limited, (BCLL) the nodal agency for public transportation in the state capital — Prasanna Purple with 150 buses, Capital Operator with 35 buses and Jagdamba Company with 40 buses. Of these, around 90 buses are lying abandoned.
Prasanna Purple has terminated its contract with BCLL. Prasanna operated the 150 buses according to a 2010 contract, which was to run till 2018, but cancelled it by saying it was suffering major losses and could not operate at the same royalty of Rs 6,600 per month anymore.
According to sources, these 150 buses were plying since 2010 and there had been no servicing or maintenance work of the vehicles. A servicing was to take place after 20,000 km but about 80 buses were serviced for the first time after running for 50,000 km. As a result, the cost of running these buses with repairs shot up and the company decided to terminate its contract.
“We have had a lot of issues with BCLL. We had put forward certain conditions to operate buses, but they did not agree to any. Therefore we have decided to move out of this contract,” said, Prassana Purple manager Subhash Bachhkaiya.
With this, the BCLL now faces an annual loss of Rs 11.7 crore but it will not levy any penalty on Prassana Purple, said sources. Instead, the nodal authority will hunt for a new bus supplier.
“We know that the maintenance of these buses is very high thus we are not increasing the royalty. Prasanna has sent BCLL a notice, they have informed in prior that they are unable to operate in this case we do not wanted to levy a penalty and therefore we had floated tenders and got two operators on board for operating the buses. We might consider bringing new buses now,” said BCLL public relations officer Sanjay Soni.
BCLL is planning to give the contract of 100 buses to Jagdamba Company and 50 buses to Ananta motors. Currently Jagdamba pays BCLL a royalty of only Rs 100 per month.
Capital Operator, which pays BCLL a royalty of Rs 4,000 on each bus per month, has said it too may terminate its contract because it may not sustain itself for very long.
“The inventory has become too costly. These buses are expensive and bus dealers do not have all the parts available in Bhopal. While Prassana had to give a higher royalty (than us), we too have to pay a lot. The new operators have to pay very less,” Capital Operators owner Charanjit Gulati said.
OPERATIONS IN BHOPAL
Three bus operators function under Bhopal City Link Limited (BCLL), the nodal agency for public transportation in the state capital.
Operators Number of buses Functional buses Royalty per month for 1 bus
Prasanna purple 150 80 6600
Capital 35 25 4000
Jagdamba 40 30 100