Having route permits for 2,407 buses, the state-run Punjab Roadways is able to run only 1,672 buses on various routes in the state as it is short of 735 buses. However, it is still paying motor vehicle tax to the tune of around Rs 20 crore per year for the non-existent buses.
Sources in the state transport department say the losses are mounting as the department has to pay the motor vehicle tax of Rs 3.03 per kilometre for each bus covering a distance of 240 kilometres having a route permit every day. “We have surrendered some permits, but we are still paying taxes for missing mileage," said a transport department official.
“We may get the required number of buses soon,” said Malwinder Singh Jaggi, managing director of Punbus, a subsidiary of the Punjab Roadways. Punbus takes loans on behalf of the Punjab Roadways to purchase the buses and after repayment of loans, the buses are handed over to the roadways.
In order to cover the losses, a proposal to add 305 new buses to the Punjab Roadways fleet was made about a year ago, but it is yet to take shape. Sources said after the proposal, the transport department approached the Corporation Bank for loans which delayed it for six months. “We then approached Andhra Bank which has sanctioned a loan of `55 crore for five years,” said Jaggi.
The authorities decided to get the bus bodies fabricated by Haryana Roadways Engineering Corporation Limited. The new buses are to be equally distributed among all 18 depots of the Punjab Roadways, he added.
The proposed fleet of 305 new buses also include 10 integral coaches (Volvo/Mercedes) for which the department had invited tenders and buses are expected to arrive by June or July, said sources.
However, the transport department has still not received the first lot of 12 fabricated buses from Haryana Roadways Engineering Corporation Limited despite having placed orders around two months ago on March 27.
The department has also sent a reminder seeking delivery of the remaining 293 buses chassis for fabrication. The cost of one chassis is Rs 10.78 lakh and fabrication will cost another Rs 7.5 lakh, taking the total cost of a single bus to Rs 18.28 lakh.
The Punbus managing director said Haryana Roadways Engineering Corporation Limited was liable to pay penalty for delay in delivery of the buses. So far, no deadline has been fixed for handing over of the fabricated buses to Punbus, he said.
* SHORTAGE OF BUSES
2,407 sanctioned route permits with Punjab Roadways
1,672 roadways buses running on various routes
735 more buses needed
305 new buses to be added in roadways’ fleet
Rs 18.28 lakh cost of a single bus