Even as the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation buses and private buses are facing operational losses due to lack of patronage, only 300 privates buses conducted service on Monday, that too openly flouting physical distancing norms, seeking to step up pressure on government for hiking fare.
The police seized over a dozen private buses in Kollam and Ernakulam districts on the day for allowing passengers to stand and travel flouting the physical distancing norms.
The buses were released later after imposing a penalty of ₹4,000 each.
The breach of rules by operators to make money did not have the backing of the Joint Action Council of Bus Owners, council chairman Lawrence Babu said. “We have not given any call to the operators and they are taking decisions individually as the income is not enough even for paying fuel bills,” he said.
As part of putting pressure on the government to hike the fare, the private operators preferred to keep buses off the road. “Only 300 of the 12,500 private buses operated on Monday. More buses will keep off the road in the coming days,” Mr. Babu said.
The private bus operators toughened the stance after Transport Minister A.K. Saseendran made it clear that a fare hike could be considered only after getting the report of the Fare Revision Committee.
Passengers have started feeling the pinch as government offices and other institutions have started functioning normally on Monday. Passengers in rural areas and regions where KSRTC do not conduct service are the worst hit.
The Malabar region, where private buses run most of the services, is badly affected. In Attingal, Varkala, and Kilimanoor areas in the capital district, private buses have stopped plying.
The KSRTC operated only 2,300 services on Monday. The KSRTC operated inter-district services between adjacent districts allowing passengers in all seats.
“We are not getting revenue even for meeting the fuel bill. Although the number of services operated has been increased from the 1,586 on Saturday, the patronage was less,” a top KSRTC official said.