Mahalakshmi Scheme: Overload taking a heavy toll on RTC buses and staff 

The TSRTC (Telangana State Road Transport Corporation) is grappling with a challenging situation, despite an apparent increase in the occupancy ratio of its buses. The implementation of the Mahalakshmi scheme has led to a surge in passenger traffic, resulting in occupancy ratios exceeding 100 percent, with recorded figures of 114.28 percent and 108.38 percent in February. Previously, the occupancy ratio ranged from 65-68 percent.

However, this apparent success in increased ridership has not translated into improved financial performance for the RTC. Despite the rise in passenger numbers, the income has seen a decline. In the past, buses covering over 8 lakh kilometers were decommissioned, but now they continue to operate even after reaching 14-15 lakh kilometers. This extended service life has resulted in frequent breakdowns of old buses, posing challenges for maintenance.

The increased capacity and heavy load have taken a toll on the buses, leading to frequent damages. Although new buses are introduced periodically, their numbers are insufficient compared to the overall fleet. Out of the 9,200 buses in the RTC, including rental buses, more than 5,000 are old and prone to breakdowns.

The financial strain on the RTC is exacerbated by its existing heavy debt burden. Despite an increase in passenger numbers, direct income has decreased from Rs. 450 crores to Rs. 270 crores. The Mahalakshmi scheme, providing Rs. 300 crores per month to RTC as ‘zero ticket’ revenue, is not considered by lending banks when assessing the company’s financial health. As of April 2023, the company is facing losses amounting to around Rs. 10 thousand crores.

In summary, the TSRTC faces a multifaceted financial crisis, marked by declining income, increased expenses, and mounting debts, necessitating comprehensive reforms and strategic interventions for sustainable operations.