Stalemate continues over resumption of Andhra-Telangana RTC services

Hyderabad: Uncertainty continues over resumption of bus services between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh as another round of talks failed to resolve the impasse.

The talks between managing directors of road transport corporations of the Telugu states held here on Tuesday could not reach to a consensus on reviving the interstate RTC services.

Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) incharge MD Sunil Sharma and Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) MD M. T. Krishna Babu met at Bus Bhavan and discussed the issue of kilometers and bus routes but could not arrive at a solution.

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No consensus

There was no consensus on the routes to be allotted to TSRTC. Telangana has been insisting on parity in the number of kilometers covered and routes.

The earlier rounds of talks between the two transport bodies had yielded no results while a meeting between the transport ministers of both the states scheduled on September 14 was postponed.

After bifurcation of the state in 2014, APSRTC buses have been running 2.65 lakh km in Telangana while TSRTC was operating its buses on 1.55 lakh km in Andhra Pradesh.

Though APSRTC has offered to reduce its number of kilometers by 50,000, TSRTC is said to be insisting on profitable routes, mainly Vijayawada-Hyderabad route.

The AP Reorganisation Act, 2014 enabled running of interstate public sector RTC bus services for five years without any formal agreement or permit.

That arrangement ended in June 2019 but no fresh pact was signed between the two states.

COVID-19 lockdown

The COVID-19 lockdown led to suspension of bus services between the two states from March 25.

Despite lifting of the lockdown and the Centre allowing operation of interstate bus services, the Telugu states could not resume their RTC services.

Telangana saw an opportunity to insist on a proper inter-state agreement on the basis of parity to allow resumption of services.

There is a feeling in Telangana that the current arrangement is heavily loaded in favour of APSRTC due to various factors, the main being more passengers travelling from Andhra to Telangana, especially Hyderabad.

The continued suspension of RTC services between the two states is said to be benefiting private bus operators.

Demand for interstate travel

According to Abhibus, a leading online ticketing aggregator, there is a spike in demand for interstate travel.

Searches from Hyderabad in the past seven days reveal that Bangalore, Vijayawada, Guntur, Visakhapatnam, Nellore, Ongole, Kurnool, Chennai, Anantapur and Rajahmundry are the top travel destinations.

“Some AP/TS trends of searches in the last seven days on AbhiBus indicate that the top 10 destinations that people searched from Hyderabad are all outside of Telangana. A whopping 100,000 people searched 10 destinations like Bangalore (26K), Vijayawada (25K), Guntur (9K), Visakhapatnam (8k) and so on all in the last seven days,” it said.

“The pent up demand for travel is soaring while the supply side is severely lacking. With social distancing becoming a new norm, travel is set to take off. Post the resumption of the interstate bus services, a spike in demand has been observed. But with limited routes laid by the two state RTCs, the supply is unable to address this growing demand,” said Rohit Sharma, Chief Operating Officer, Abhibus.

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