Suffering losses, HRTC’s income rises marginally

Subhash Rajta

Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 14

The losses suffered by the Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) since the Covid outbreak have crossed Rs 850 crore. However, the corporation isn't losing money at the same pace as it was until a couple of months ago. "We were earning Rs 32 or Rs 33 per km on an average a few months ago. Now, we are earning Rs 37 or Rs 38 per km," says HRTC vice-chairman Vijay Agnihotri.

Despite the marginal increase in income, the HRTC is still losing around Rs 16 or Rs 17 per km. "Our expenditure per km is around Rs 55. So, there's still a long way to go before we are able to narrow down the income-expenditure gap to a sustainable level," says Agnihotri.

Fuel price cut a boon

The reduction in the diesel price has provided some relief to the corporation. Before the cut in fuel prices, the average expenses had risen to

Rs60 per km, taking the deficit to over Rs20. —Vijay Agnihotri, HRTC Vice-chairman

The reduction in the diesel price has provided some relief to the corporation. "Before the cut in fuel prices, the average per km expenses had risen to Rs 60 per km, taking the deficit to over

Rs 20," he says.

For the record, the income-expenditure gap during the pre-Covid times used to be around Rs 6 to Rs 8 per km. While the average per km expenditure was around Rs 45 during the pre-Covid times, the income was around Rs 37 or Rs 38 per km. Incidentally, out of 3,700 routes that the HRTC operates within and outside the state, only around 300 are profit making.

"We are a public service entity. Our operations can't be guided solely by profit. Besides catering to very low-occupancy routes where private players will not operate, we offer free travel to 27 different categories," says Agnihotri.

The government has allowed the operation of buses with 100 per cent capacity, and now the HRTC can expect it's earnings to go up. As against the pre-Covid occupancy rate of 58 per cent to 60 per cent in HRTC buses, the current occupancy rate is around 44 per cent.

Agnihotri feels that the decision may not push up the occupancy rate much. "Actually, travelling habits of people have changed a lot during the pandemic. People prefer to travel in private vehicles or taxis now and it will not be easy to bring such people back to the public transport," he adds.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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