National News

206 Kerala buses to run on long routes, 9K pvt buses stay put

July 31, 2020 06:19 PM

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as owners of 9,000 private buses have decided to stay put, 206 state-owned KSRTC buses will resume services on long-distance routes from Saturday within the state, the first since the national lockdown came into effect in March.

No decision has however been taken to operate inter-state services, Transport Minister A.K. Saseendran said on Friday.

"The services will resume as per the Covid protocols. The routes have been decided in such a manner that these will skip the containment zones. Since the Covid outbreak, people have been avoiding public transport and if this situation continues, the public utility transport may come to an abrupt end. Hence, even if we are at a loss, we decided to resume our services."

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation resumed short-distance services after the Centre allowed public transport during lockdown relaxations, but Kerala decided to stop the same following coronavirus spike.

On the other hand, the private buses, plagued by poor revenue and huge running costs, decided to sit it out after pleas to the state government to provide relief.

"KSRTC buses have been given exemption from paying road tax till March 31, 2021. The KSRTC gets financial support regularly from the state and even this month, it got Rs 64 crore. We also want basic support; but we are not getting such support from the state government," said Lawerence Babu, a private bus operator.

The state provided tax relief to owners of private buses in the first quarter of the current fiscal and extended the same till October, but they dubbed it "inadequate".

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