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PRTC allowing loss for private transporters' gain?

It's the failure of the state-run Pepsu Road Transport Corporation in covering even its allotted route areas that is allowing private transporters to thrive, most them politicians. The reason: no attempt to increase the size of the fleet, either deliberate or otherwise.

punjab Updated: May 07, 2015 16:51 IST

It's the failure of the state-run Pepsu Road Transport Corporation in covering even its allotted route areas that is allowing private transporters to thrive, most them politicians.

The reason: no attempt to increase the size of the fleet, either deliberate or otherwise.

At present, the PRTC has 704 owned, 251 km-scheme ordinary buses, 13 integral coaches, besides 59 air conditioned buses being operated on 577 routes, which include inter-state routes. These buses are meant to cover a daily distance of 3,55,827 km.

But PRTC, the HT has found out, for the last seven years, the PRTC has been falling short of the target - by 1 to 1.5 lakh km, more so on important routes.

This has been allowing the private buses to gain ground and mint profit, while causing losses to the state exchequer.

"It's a well planned formula to rob the state," said a PRTC official, requesting anonymity, "The government has deliberately not purchased new buses for PRTC, so that PRTC can't ply buses on all routes."

Time-table mess

The most prominent beneficiary among the private bus companies is Orbit aviation, co-owned by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.

In the official time-table listed by government officials the PRTC or state-run buses are scheduled for plying on nearly 60% of the routes. But a closer look on the dispatch schedule reveals that PRTC misses to ply its buses most of the time.

These prime slots mostly go to Orbit or allied companies of the ruling SAD-BJP alliance.

In the official time table, orbit buses alone are occupying 13 slots on route of Patiala- Sangrur- Bathinda route as compared to the others.

Besides, there are other routes on which private buses dominates: like Patiala- Amritsar via Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala- Nangal, Patiala- Bakshi Wala, Amloh, Khanna etc

Moreover, buses ply on these routes almost twice than the allotted times, as PRTC, owing to shortage of buses, misses each time.

"On official papers, the routes remains with PRTC, but in reality private buss ply on them," the official said. He added that apart from Orbit, the private companies taking full advantage of the PRTC's loopholes encroaching on PRTC routes are New Deep, Dabwali, A2Z, besides the other lesser known.

'CAG probe needed'

However, it's not that private buses have been taking advantage; many believe they are being allowed to do so due to political patronage.

Sources have told HT that some PRTC officials have also been issuing favours to the private transporters and going out of the way in allotting routes.

For instance, they said, on some routes that are exclusively meant for government buses (like Patiala- Patran, Patiala-Samana etc) officials have been allowing private buses to ply in violation of rules.

The PRTC official who spoke to HT said the "mess" merits a probe into the entire working of the transport department by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

Manjeet Singh Narang, managing director of PRTC, admitted it all, but denied succumbing to political patronage.

Moreover, he said as far as dominance of private buses is concerned, "any kind of manipulation" could have been done by bus stand officials "in the interests of the public... if the scheduled bus, either private or government, is delayed."

Narang, however, said PRTC is going to add another 250 buses to its fleet. "The first lot of new PRTC buses will arrive in May. Then we can claim all routes and it will be profitable for PRTC," he said.


Patiala: It's the failure of the state-run Pepsu Road Transport Corporation in covering even its allotted route areas that is allowing private transporters to thrive, most them politicians.

The reason: no attempt to increase the size of the fleet, either deliberate or otherwise.

At present, the PRTC has 704 owned, 251 km-scheme ordinary buses, 13 integral coaches, besides 59 air conditioned buses being operated on 577 routes, which include inter-state routes. These buses are meant to cover a daily distance of 3,55,827 km.

But PRTC, the HT has found out, for the last seven years, the PRTC has been falling short of the target - by 1 to 1.5 lakh km, more so on important routes.

This has been allowing the private buses to gain ground and mint profit, while causing losses to the state exchequer.

"It's a well planned formula to rob the state," said a PRTC official, requesting anonymity, "The government has deliberately not purchased new buses for PRTC, so that PRTC can't ply buses on all routes."