BMTC seeks government’s permission to operate AC buses
As Bengaluru begins to get its groove back while fighting the pandemic, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation Limited (BMTC), which is currently running limited services, hopes to expand its operations. On Tuesday, it approached the government for permission to run its fleet of luxury air-conditioned buses and extend operation timings.
BMTC buses are currently functioning from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but officials have made a case for extending services from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. It also hopes to start operating AC buses.
At present, the government is allowing BMTC and other State transport corporations to operate only non-AC buses. The Corporation has a fleet of 860 AC buses, which were procured with an investment of hundreds of crores of rupees. Due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, its fleet of luxury buses continue to remain unused.
However, with the domestic aviation sector now open, the BMTC wants to operate AC buses both within Bengaluru city limits as well as to Kempegowda International Airport (KIA). BMTC Managing Director C. Shikha told The Hindu that the request was made last week. “We are waiting for approval from the government,” she said.
Another official pointed out that with air-conditioned flights and special passenger trains being allowed, allowing AC buses is the next step. “People are travelling in AC passenger trains to Delhi, and flight services have resumed. We are hoping to get a green signal from the government,” he said.
Prior to the lockdown, the BMTC was operating 110 AC buses to the international airport on over 15 routes.
The Corporation has been gradually increasing the number of non-AC buses since it resumed services. Initially, it ran 1,700 to 1,800 buses, but from Monday onwards, the number has increased to 3,000.
With the introduction of ‘flat bus fare’ for single trips, the number of commuters is likely to increase.
“At present we are operating buses with only seating capacity. Standing inside the bus is not allowed. As the ridership increases, we may require more buses. Utilising the AC bus fleet will help the Corporation in providing more services,” the official added.