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With 30% seat occupancy, PRTC stares at huge losses

Moreover, the corporation, which is running just 10% of its fleet of 1,073 buses, is unable even to recover the operational costs, including maintenance and fuel expenses
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By Navrajdeep Singh, Patiala
PUBLISHED ON MAY 28, 2020 01:28 AM IST

Having resumed service last week after 60 days of curfew in Punjab, the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) is finding it financially unviable to ply its buses on roads as they are running with mere 30% seat occupancy.

Moreover, the corporation, which is running just 10% of its fleet of 1,073 buses, is unable even to recover the operational costs, including maintenance and fuel expenses.

Presently, the state-run buses are plying only on inter-district routes and the government is yet to give nod to the private transporters to begin service.

The corporation faced a loss of Rs 51 crore in the first 60 days of the lockdown, with average daily loss pegged at Rs 85 lakh.

PRTC managing director Jaskaran Singh said, “In the first few days, as many as 80 buses were pressed into service and 30 more have been added. On an average, 3,000 people are commuting in theses buses daily. The number is very less as per our expectations.”

“The operational cost, including maintenance, can be recovered only if there is more than 60% of seat occupancy,” he said.

Before the state government banned public transport service in wake of the pandemic on March 20, the corporation recorded a daily income of Rs 1.40 crore. Its monthly income has been estimated at Rs 42 crore.

“We will take up the issue of financial losses during and after the lockdown with the state government so as to get some monetary assistance,” Singh said.

PRTC chairman KK Sharma said the people are reluctant to use public transport due to fear of spread of the coronavirus.

“The low occupancy could be gauged from the fact that even on key routes like Patiala-Chandigarh, not more that 15 commuters have boarded a bus so far. The spending on diesel per bus is more than fare collection,” Sharma said.

They are appealing to people to travel in corporation buses as these are properly sanitised before every journey, he added.

“The general managers have been asked to implement the time table so that the commuters do not face any inconvenience,” he said.

Another official said with no income during the lockdown, the corporation exhausted its savings and funds in paying salaries and pensions to its employees for March and April.

“However, with poor response after resumption of services, it will be difficult for the corporation to meet its committed liabilities, amounting Rs 46 crore per month, in the coming months,” he claimed.

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