The State Road Transport Undertakings (SRTUs) provide bus-based public transport to urban and rural population of the country. Ministry of Road Transport and Highway (MoRTH) released a “Review of Performance of State Road Transport Undertakings” in October 2017, providing comprehensive overview of physical and financial performance of 47 reporting State Road Transport Undertakings (SRTUs) during 2015-16.
SRTUs play a critical role in providing mobility to the public, performed around 1.48 billion passenger-kms per day and carried more than 68 million passengers per day (both city and intercity). Indian railways carries around 23 million passengers per day, thus SRTUs carries 3 times more passengers per day. There are altogether 54 SRTUs comprising of 24 State Road Transport Corporations (SRTCs), 12 Companies, 8 Government Departmental Undertakings and 10 Municipal Undertakings, providing passenger transport services for rural, inter-city and urban areas.
This is annual performance report prepared by Transport Research Wing (TRW) and published by the ministry to compare the performance of 47 SRTUs in India.
Some of the key highlights of the reports are:
1. There are around 210 million registered vehicles in India as on 31 March 2015, out of which only 1.97 million (0.94 per cent) are buses. However, the share of public sector bus companies is just 7 per cent (i.e. 140,000 buses). There is need to increase numbers of public buses to 300,000 to 400,000 in next 3-4 years.
2. 47 SRTUs held a total of 142,855 buses out of which 129,179 buses were operated, on an average, implying fleet utilisation of 90.4% during 2015-16.
3. The combined staff strength of the reporting SRTUs was 738,325 employees, including crew. Thus, staff to bus ratio was 5.17 in 2015-16, which is higher compared to international standards owing to fare collector in the buses.
4. The average occupancy ratio of 69.65 per cent in 2015-16 is marginally lower than 70.74 per cent for 2014-15. There is need to improve occupancy ratio in the buses to generate more revenue.
5. 47 SRTUs reported the combined revenue of Rs.517.50 billion, compared to combined cost of INR 643.77 billion in 2015-16. In this period, the revenue is increased by about 1.6 per cent, compared to 2.4 per cent increase in the cost.
6. SRTUs are earning major part of their revenue from ticket sales, contributing 85 per cent of total revenue, whereas non-traffic revenue (income from advertisements, sale proceeds from scraps, receipt from imposition of penalties/fines and other receipts) constituted only 4% of the total revenue. SRTUs are received subsidy from the government to meet the shortfall. On the cost side, staff costs, and fuel and lubricant costs accounted for around 70% of the total cost. Further, both interest and taxes taken together formed about 14% of the total cost incurred by SRTU buses. Thus, if the government waive off interest and taxes alone, it can help SRTUs to achieve better financial health.
7. There are only 7 profit-making SRTUs (BMTC, HRTC, KTCL, KSRTC, OSRTC, PUNBUS and UPSRTC) in year 2015-16, compared to 40 loss making SRTUs. The cumulative net loss of 47 SRTUs is INR 113.50 billion. However, it is not a good parameter to evaluate the performance of public bus system as they are serving larger social cause. Further, Fare concessions and subsidies extended by State/UT governments to various categories of the citizens often lack quantification and transparency thereby diluting accountability.
8. SRTUs are vastly diverse in scale of operation as well as in financial performance, for example, 3 biggest SRTUs – MSTRC (18,514 buses), APSTRC (12,012 buses) and TSTRC (10,391 buses) accounted for over 30 per cent of fleet in operation, passenger carried and total revenue. On the other hand, the smallest 5 SRTUs in terms of fleet strength were Arunachal Pradesh (164 buses), Sikkim (126), Meghalaya (59), Mizoram (49) and Tripura (48) and contributing to a share of only 0.3% to the total fleet strength of the 47 reporting SRTUs.
9. Largely, SRTUs are operating intercity bus service, and some of them are operating both city and inter-city bus operation. 8 SRTUs are operating exclusively in metropolitan cities, namely Ahmedabad (AMTC), Mumbai (BEST Undertakings), Bengaluru (BMTC), Kolkata (CTC), Chandigarh (CTU), Delhi (DTC), Chennai (MTC) and Pune (PMPML).
10. The average age of the fleet of the reporting SRTUs ranged from 3.17 years to 12.85 years in 2015-16. Each SRTU has prescribed life in terms of years and/or kms performed to define the life of the vehicles. Generally, the fleet which is older than 12 years are categorized as over-age.
However, the report is still not collecting data on other key areas like status of ITS implementation, Depot Management System, Investment in IT implementation etc. The Ministry has been providing financial assistance to States for introduction of IT such as vehicle tracking system and electronic ticket vending machines. There is need for larger investment in enterprise resource planning, planning and scheduling, depot management system, maintenance and workshop system and modern maintenance infrastructure.
Further, performance assessment of private operators which constitute 85-90 per cent of intercity buses in the country gives a glimpse of the operational efficiency at which these players are operating (Source: REVIEW OF THE PERFORMANCE OF STATE ROAD TRANSPORT UNDERTAKINGS FOR APRIL, 2015 – MARCH, 2016).