Hyderabad: State-run buses, which are the most affordable and preferred means of transport for many, have not been running since the lockdown was imposed in March to curb the spread of the novel corona virus (COVID-19). While the Centre earlier this month issued guidelines to restart the metro rail, there is still no clarity on resumption of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) services in Hyderabad.
As of now, scores of TSRTC bus drivers and conductors who were operating in the Greater Hyderabad area are waiting to get back to their jobs. Moreover, the corporation is also suffering monetarily, as it is losing about Rs 3.5 crore per day, which it earlier used to generate from Hyderabad alone. A senior TSRTC official, who did not want to be quoted, said that the organisation is currently paying about Rs.90 crore a month in salaries, which is the only expense for now.
“As buses are not running in Hyderabad, we have no other expenses apart from salaries. The total monthly expenditure is about Rs 150 crore (before lockdown), which we need to break even. However, our monthly revenue was short by about Rs 30 crore. Right now, we have no idea as to when services will resume in Hyderabad. That is a call the state government will take. We will have to follow orders,” the official added.
In Hyderabad, the TSRTC has about 3000 buses running everyday (10,000 in Telangana), which used to be the lifeline for several citizens who cannot afford more expensive options like auto-rickshaws and cabs. The lack of buses, however have also forced many to shell out extra everyday for daily commutes. Raj Kiran, 27, an employee at a private firm, said that he has to fork out about Rs.200 to Rs.300 a day for his commute. “Before the lockdown, I used to spend Rs.50 on bus tickets a day,” he added.
Mohd. Sufiyan, 32, another commuter who has to travel from Secunderabad to Hitech City everyday for work, also lamented about steep cab and auto fares that he has to pay for daily. “It is a bad situation for everyone. A bus ride to Hitech City costs only a fraction of what I pay for my auto far. I am spending at least 15-20% of my salary on commuting, as I do not have the work from home option,” he stated.
TSRTC officials, acknowledging that the public is being inconvenienced due to the lack of state-run buses on roads, said that nothing is in their hands. “Buses are running outside Hyderabad, so we can only operate our vehicles in the city once there are clear guidelines from the government. So far there is nothing,” another TSRTC official informed.
As far as the Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) is concerned, an official said that no date has been fixed as to when its operations will begin, even after the Centre issued guidelines as part of its ‘Unlock 4.0’ rules earlier this month. The metro, which offers an air-conditioned mode of travel, used to transport about 4.5 lakh passengers a day in Hyderabad.