Grill session: 'Illegally-plying autos our only problem'
Inaugurated in 2008 by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, the city bus service - a fleet of 15 buses - will go off-road from July 30. The city bus manager/contractor blames it on "heavy losses incurred by unchecked growth illegally-operating autorickshaws"in the city.punjab Updated: Jul 26, 2014 20:08 IST
Inaugurated in 2008 by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, the city bus service - a fleet of 15 buses - will go off-road from July 30. The city bus manager/contractor blames it on "heavy losses incurred by unchecked growth illegally-operating autorickshaws"in the city.
The bus service, however, has always been in controversies over one or the other reason since its inception. Hindustan Times grilled the manager, Praveen Olivera, on his decision to cease the bus service.
HT What prompted you to take the decision to discontinue the city bus service?
Heavy losses incurred by unchecked growth of illegally-operating autorickshaws are the only reason behind the company discontinuing the service. We have warned the Jalandhar municipal corporation authorities to restrict the autos plying without permits or else the company will stop the bus service. The authorities assured the company time and again, but failed to act against the illegally plying autos.
Do you agree that you too fail to provide service up to the mark - the buses are ill-maintained and lack cleanliness?
Only this year we fail to maintain the buses due to heavy loss, while during the first five years of the service, the maintenance was up to the mark. It has been becoming increasingly difficult for the company to maintain the buses and pay taxes, salaries of drivers and conductors from a profit of Rs 1,000 per day per bus.
How much loss the city bus service has incurred?
The estimated loss is around Rs 1 crore annually, excluding the cost of diesel. We pay a road tax of around Rs 1 lakh per month for all the 15 buses.
Do you think that covering only outer routes of the city was one of the major drawbacks, as commuters feel convenient to take an auto?
We don't have any problem with the autos plying inside the city, but ferrying passengers on our bus route - Jalandhar bus stand to Kartarpur - is a major problem. There are 10 autos per minute plying on our bus route, then why passengers will wait for 10 minutes for a local bus. They will obviously prefer an auto over a local bus. There are around 15,000 autos in the city, of which more than 12,000 are running without permit.
Is there any possibility of the company reconsidering the decision?
No, it's final. We have warned the civic body officials reputedly to put check on the illegal autoricksahws, but they hardly paid any heed to our request. Now we are left with no option, but go off the road.