Will KSRTC set the new wheels in motion?

Every crisis, they say, is an opportunity. The bigger the crisis, the greater the opportunity. That is, if you take the bull by the horns and come on top of the situation. The adage should have worked for the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), one of the oldest public transport utilities in the country, several times over. For, the past few decades have been a roller-coaster ride for the utility, from one crisis to another, with no opportunity showing up or being urilised. As the Corporation stares at perhaps its worst financial crisis in its 79 years of existence, the question that should be uppermost in the minds of all who care should be simple: Will it make it this time?

With a fleet of 6,000 stage carriers, 44,000 employees and 40,000 pensioners, the Corporation is huge in terms of its size and scale of responsibilities to itself, not to speak of its commitment to provide hassle-free and timely travel facilities to an increasingly commuting population. As things stand, the Corporation is dependent almost entirely on the increasingly reluctant ventilator support from the government for its survival. For years, it has been a journey through a dark tunnel for the Corporation, but a faint glimmer of light appears nigh, if it can shed the accumulated flab, both in terms of workers and work ethics, and gather speed in an increasingly competitive market.

An effort seems very much on, both with the Pinarayi Vijayan government and the KSRTC management putting together a revival plan aimed at bringing down the Corporation’s liabilities, increasing its revenue, modernising the fleet, making the utility more passenger-friendly and making the employees more accountable and injecting greater professionalism into its running. With a total liability of ₹ 2,936.60 crore, resulting from repeated borrowings from banks and other financial institutions to clear salary and pension dues and meet operation costs, and an all-time revenue-expenditure gap of ₹154…

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