Dec 7, 2009

Why Kerala doesn't need a Volvo?

The title is inspired from the superman movie, where Lois Lane got Pulitzer prize for "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman?".

It is nice to see the introduction of new Volvo 8400 buses as inter-city bus transit system under JNNRUM scheme. The buses were flagged off on Nov 17.

Then the inevitable happened. Mishap of KSRTC volvo near East Fort. All regional news channels gave a good coverage for the incident. Later officials confirmed, two window panes are damaged and just need Rs 50k per pane. So 'they' may have to spend Rs 1 lakh or more to repair it.

Person who favours Volvo say, those are AC buses, low floor, no hassle with rickshaw wallahs, clean, moderately priced and many more. But is it true? A window pane is just enough to make big holes in the pocket of already sinking KSTRC. If KSTRC is proud to have Volvo in its fleet, will they replace all TATA and Leyland buses? They are just opposite of what adores Volvo.

You can see quarter empty Volvo buses plying from Kaniyapuram- Kovalam, where as other local buses carry people hanging in foot boards? Still those buses run in loss. So how come Volvo bus break-even the cost, with high maintenance cost?

You may also say, people using cars will shift to Volvo buses and thus reduces carbon emission and city traffic. What is the guarantee that a Volvo will turn up as per the schedule? If the bus is out of service, will KSTRC arrange another one to cover it up? Telematics is unheard off.

It is right time to ask, whether we need luxurious buses to ply less than 20 km or 2+ ordinary buses for the cost of one Volvo. Running cost per km for Volvo is atleast twice that of regular ones

What we need is just a basic transportation, where people can atleast travel without risking their lives. Almost all buses plying in morning and evening have school children hanging precariously on the bus. When you can operate regular buses at half the cost and half the investment, do we really need a volvo ac bus?

Last chapter of every deal closes with Corruption. Hope next government, won't dig anything out to screw the people behind the Volvo initiative. It is nice to recollect painting the green hi-tech buses back to red when government switched.:)