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Bus operators in Tamil Nadu hit out at government for imposing curbs on intake of passengers

The All Omnibus owners and operators association has written to the Transport Commissioner seeking an extension of the tax deadline.

Written by Janardhan Koushik | Chennai |
Updated: April 16, 2021 3:23:46 pm
Intake of passengers in buses have been confined to seating capacity of vehicles. (Representational Photo)

The Tamil Nadu government has been on the receiving end from bus operators since it introduced curbs that make it mandatory for private and public buses to only take passengers corresponding to its seating capacity.

The restrictions have been imposed on busses plying between districts, Metropolitan bus transport in Chennai and the ones plying from Tamil Nadu to other states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka.

Although the decision comes at a time when the state has been witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases, operators say they have been incurring heavy losses owing to the restrictions.

Speaking to Indianexpress.com, a senior official from the Villupuram State Transport Corporation said they are incurring losses close to Rs 2.5 crore each day.

“Villupuram corporate comprises six regions — Villupuram, Vellore, Kancheepuram, Cuddalore, TIruvannamalai and Tiruvallur. In 2019, 18 lakh passengers travelled on our busses on a daily basis. After the pandemic, the entire business has suffered. After a year marred by lockdowns and curbs, it was only in this February-March that things started becoming normal. We received 14 lakh passengers on a daily basis in the past couple of months. Now, in the past one week, after the government imposed new restrictions, only 10 lakh passengers are travelling in our busses,” he added.

The official further said that they have also limited the number of busses plying in certain routes due to the poor occupancy. “We haven’t stopped our services in rural areas and villages as people depend on us. However, in other routes like Vellore-Chennai, Vilupuram-Chennai, Kancheepuram-Chennai, and Cuddalore-Chennai, we have cut down approximately 40 busses. For the past 2-3 days, there has been very poor passenger turnout. The surge in Covid-19 cases have forced people to stay indoors. We can only request the government to support our employees in this difficult period,” he said.

A Anbalagan, the general secretary of the All Omnibus owners and operators association, said they have submitted a letter to the Transport Commissioner seeking an extension of the tax deadline.

“4,000 busses used to ply across the state. Between March and October 2020, we were under severe financial stress owing to the lockdowns. It is only in January that things started rolling. However, we were still plying only 600 buses. The restriction from the government this month is a fatal blow to us. Only seating would mean we have lost 50 per cent of our revenue. Our average turnover per month used to be Rs 5 lakh. Now, with just 300 busses operating, imagine how much loss we will incur,” he added

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