Ailing STS plans strong revival

Report by: 
RP SHARMA
Port Blair
9 Dec 2018

Ageing bus fleet, frequent breakdowns, poor performance and fierce competition from private bus operators has spelt doom for the State Transport Service’s (STS) plans to woo passengers. To stay alive, the ailing State owned transport department have chalked out modernization plans, which is slated to be implemented shortly. The STS presently operate a fleet of 82 buses, spread across the Islands. What has kept the STS still alive is the brisk business it has been making from the ATR routes. The nigh bus service introduced recently has also become a big hit among the commuters. On an average, the Department collects revenues to the tune of Rs 2 lakh on a daily basis. The introduction of electronic ticketing machines has ensured transparency and reduced corruption in a big way.  The STS has about 14 Units and a fleet of 270 staff, across the Islands catering to the transportation needs of the commuters.
Speaking to EOI, a senior officer of the Transport Department said that besides private and government buses, a good number of buses procured under the MPLAD fund were also in operation by the PRI.  However, these buses could not be operated for long lacking maintenance. Most of these buses are now remain unused and in awful conditions left to rot. Though the department has the capacity and infrastructure for repair and maintenance of these buses, the Department cannot procure put this bus on use as these buses are not TATA make. As regard issuing of bus pass to the School children, he said the department has always paid special focus on pass to School students. For one side trip from Jirkatang to Port Blair, a amount to the tune of Rs 32 per person is charged. But for school students, the monthly passes are made available for Rs 400 per head. For the bus pass, the Education Department pay Rs 5 lakhs to the Transport Department as monthly pass fares.
The Transport Department which once enjoyed a complete monopoly in the passenger bus transport business now had to face fierce competition from the private bus operators. Ever since, the private players were allowed to operate buses, the business of the Transport department witnessed a sharp decline. Unable to sustain, they lost out to the private bus operators. The ATR sector now remains the only profitable sector for them. The decline for this government transport sector was quick and rampant.  At one stage, the administration decided to lease out the bus operation business to a Andhra Pradesh Bus Corporation.  But followed a revival package which gradually paid off and some serious revival efforts, started changing the fate of the STS. With a robust revival plans, it is expected that soon the STS will bounce back with a bang.