As Goa govt mulls public transport options, its pvt buses plan questioned

Panaji, Jan 22 (IANS): In a bid to facilitate the travel of tourists and the people of the state, the Goa government is planning to hire private buses, along with procuring more electric buses for the state run Kadamba Transport Corporation Limited (KTCL).

Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho last week admitted that there was a shortage of buses on several routes and there is a need for additional buses. "Hiring private buses seems to be the only solution. We will make our best efforts to give buses on several routes," Godinho said.

However, Sudip Tamhankar, general secretary of the All Goa Private Bus Owners Association, speaking to IANS said that they will not accept the offer of the government. "We have not received any such proposal from the government. But we are not ready for such a scheme," he said.

"Actually it is not feasible for the government to hire private buses. We know how we are managing (cost wise) at present. The government is already facing losses in KTCL. Despite investing crores of rupees it is not making a profit. Hence I don't think hiring private buses will be affordable for them," Tamhankar said, adding there are around 1460 private buses in Goa.

Earlier in May, the government aiming to use green technology to help tourists travel around Goa, had sent a proposal to the Central government to procure 500 electric buses to improve the bus transport network in the coastal state.

Now after receiving complaints and requests from various constituencies of the state about shortage of buses, the government has planned to hire private buses.

Godinho said that arrangements will be made to provide buses in the remote areas to facilitate transportation of students and locals.

"The problem (of shortage of buses) exists across Goa. There are less buses. Even KTCL has fewer buses and the private sector is not purchasing new buses after Covid. I have requested the Chief Minister to give additional funds to procure new buses. There are demands from various areas," Godinho said.

The BJP's Poriem MLA Deviya Rane recently brought to the notice of the government that due to shortage of buses, students from remote areas face hardship in reaching schools and colleges.

"People of the Poriem constituency are concerned over the safety and security of young students from the village of Surla, Sattari (in North Goa) due to irregular buses on the route, resulting in students availing risky alternate modes of transportation and routes to reach school," she said.

According to her, students travel around 20 km to reach schools. "When they don't get buses, they go by trucks and tempos coming from 'ghat' (of Goa-Karnataka border). This is a very risky situation. Parents are always worried for their children because of this situation. Since the Covid crisis, many buses have been stopped. Buses should be increased in the village areas," she said.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had earlier said that to promote monsoon tourism, hinterland tourism and to explore the wildlife sanctuaries of the state, paid public transport on weekends will be started. However, it is yet to be started in the coastal state.

As per the official records, in 2019 about 71,27,000 were domestic tourists who arrived in Goa, while 9,31,000 were foreign tourists. Tourists visiting Goa also prefer to travel by bus for shorter distances.

Sources informed that the government's Kadamba Transport Corporation Limited will be procuring more electric buses under FAME India (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles in India) scheme.

Presently, KTCL has a fleet of 50 electric (air conditioned) buses and another 100 will be added. "We will also get 48 electric buses under the ‘Smart City' scheme. Once these buses are delivered, we will be able to expand our transport routes," KTCL chairman and MLA Ulhas Tuenkar said.

He said that the KTCL buses run to full capacity only in the mornings, during the afternoon they find no passengers and thus KTCL is making losses. "We are operating on many remote routes, where we don't find any customers in the afternoon. But we have not discontinued the services there," he said.

"We have planned to hire private buses and very soon we will have a meeting with them to discuss it," he said.

He said that presently KTCL has around 500 buses, which run on diesel.



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