Following the implementation of the Shakhti scheme that offers free travel to women passengers on KSRTC buses, the owners of private buses have been surrendering their vehicles, unable to make a profit.
As many as 188 stage carriage vehicles have been surrendered in the Shivamogga division, which includes regional offices in Sagar, Chitradurga, Chikkamagaluru, Davangere, Mangaluru, Udupi, Puttur, Tarikere and Bantwala.
In the Shivamogga Regional Office alone, 47 buses have been surrendered in the current financial year. Since the year 2016-17, a total of 128 vehicles have been surrendered to Shivamogga RTO. It includes the vehicles surrendered during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Soon after the Shakthi was introduced, the owners of the private buses complained that they were running at a loss. There were no passengers on the routes they covered. In Shivamogga, the private bus owners stated that against the estimated ₹15,000 per day, the buses were collecting only around ₹8,000.
R. Rangappa, president of the private bus owners association in Shivamogga, told The Hindu that the State Government introduced the Shakthi scheme without discussing its impact with the owners of private buses. “If the scheme was restricted to routes where KSRTC has a monopoly, there would have been no impact. On the routes where we were competing with the KSRTC earlier, we are losing,” he said. The association has demanded the extension of the scheme’s benefits to passengers on private buses as well.
On the other hand, the Transport Department is losing revenue as private players surrender the buses. Once they surrender, they need not pay the road tax, which is paid once every three months. The amount varies from ₹40,000 to ₹50,000 for three months, depending on the number of seats.
The Shakthi scheme was launched on June 11 across the state. The same month 83 buses were surrendered in Shivamogga division, including 30 in Shivamogga RTO alone. As of August 8, 2023, a total of 188 vehicles had been surrendered in the Shivamogga division, incurring a loss of revenue to the tune of ₹90.03 lakh. The loss incurred by Shivamogga RTO alone is ₹25.18 lakh.
The State Government has set a target of ₹157.33 crores of revenue for Shivamogga RTO for the financial year 2023–24. Against the monthly target of ₹13.14 crore, the Shivamogga RTO collected ₹12.73crore in August 2023. “Last year (2022-23), the target was ₹113.20crore, and the RTO collected ₹128.59 crore, registering 113.6% achievement. With the surrender of vehicles, we are facing a loss this year. However, we are trying to manage by increasing the collection through other sources that include recovering the dues from defaulters and vehicle registrations,” said Shivamogga RTO B. Shankrappa.