A fleet that the Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) once took pride in has now turned a millstone for it. Accumulating huge losses with each passing year, the air-conditioned buses of the Corporation have left the authorities wondering as to what to do with them.At present, the RTC is operating 80 AC buses in the capital. This is in addition to the 25 Pushpak, 15 Vennela Sleeper, 120 Indra, 80 Garuda and 40 Garuda Plus buses connecting different destinations. Depending on the seating capacity, comfort and other factors, fares vary in these buses. Except for Indra buses, the rest are incurring losses.The 80-odd AC city buses, which were launched a couple of years ago, generate a seat occupancy ratio of 50 per cent everyday.
“Forget about profits, to achieve break-even, these buses should generate a seat occupancy ratio of 70 per cent. This is very unlikely. We incur about Rs. 5,000 loss per day per bus, and at this rate, it is about Rs. 4 lakh a day in the city alone,” says an official.Despite the poor patronage for the erstwhile Aero Express buses, which were operated by GMR Hyderabad connecting different areas with the airport, the RTC launched 25 “Pushpak AC” buses in December last year.These buses generate seat occupancy of 45 per cent as against the required 70 per cent. Every day, each bus generates a loss of about Rs. 3,000, and it amounts to nearly Rs. 75,000 a day, he adds. Less said is the better about Vennela sleeper buses. About 15 buses are being operated across the State and to Bangalore and Chennai but patronage remains poor.Given the fares in these buses, it was expected. For instance, the fare for a Vennela bus from Hyderabad to Visakhapatnam is about Rs.1,500, which is almost equivalent to second AC train fare.
For every trip, each bus causes a loss of Rs. 5,000 to the Corporation, says another official. Faced with poor patronage, the authorities have suspended these buses from Visakhapatnam to Hyderabad for the last one month, he informs.Similar is the case with Garuda and Garuda plus AC buses. To achieve break-even, these buses should have a seat occupancy of about 65 per cent, but they hardly generate 45 per cent. The only bright aspect in the AC category buses is the Indra buses. Over 120 buses are being operated in the State, generating a seat occupancy of about 70 per cent and achieve no-profit-no-loss mark.Given the huge losses, the authorities are considering converting Vennela sleeper buses into conventional Garuda plus buses. According to the plan, the beds would be replaced with seats, and accordingly the buses can accommodate 45 passengers as against the present 23, says an official.