KSRTC to lease private luxury buses for tourist services

Soon, tourists hoping to visit popular destinations inside and outside Kerala will be able to travel in premium private tour buses at fares comparable to the affordable ticket fares of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) , as it has given permission to KSRTC Budget Tourism Cell will hire private tourist buses on hire to arrange services to tourist destinations.

The first service, a Malappuram-Munnar trip, was launched on Wednesday and the arrangement would be piloted on other routes if found to be feasible, said Jacob Sam Lopez, Traffic Manager, Budget Tourism Cell, KSRTC.

In accordance with the rental contract, the private tourist bus would be made available to KSRTC to operate the services for 15 days per month. For non-air-conditioned overhead buses, the rental company may charge ₹13 per km up to 500 km, ₹12.85 per km from 501 to 650 km, and ₹12.60 for 651 to 800 km. The private bus driver would be paid ₹4 per km.

It is expected that KSRTC can save a considerable amount of operating costs through this wet lease system, as maintenance and other costs, including mechanical costs and state insurance tires, would be the responsibility of the lessor in accordance with the agreement. The economy tourism cell, which started operations in the state on November 1, 2021, generated an income of ₹4.5 crore till May 31 this year. So far, it has arranged over 1,500 services to around 200 destinations, mostly within the state. It operates about 70 to 75 services per week depending on demand, officials said.

Demand is high for services to Malakkappara in Thrissur from various parts of the state followed by Munnar, Munroe Thuruthu and Sambranikodi. Since these buses offer demand-based services with full passenger load factor, the profit margin of the budget tourism cell is considerably high compared to normal KSRTC passenger buses.

With the introduction of private tour buses under contract, a win-win situation for private tour bus operators affected by the crisis and the KSRTC, the company’s tourism unit hopes to laugh to the bank by the end of this tax.

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