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Transport corporations post higher losses

By R.K. Radhakrishnan

CHENNAI, JULY 29. The state-owned transport corporations incurred a loss of Rs. 3,213.41 lakhs during the last financial year. In 2002-03, it was Rs. 421.05 lakhs. Three corporations, based in Villupuram, Coimbatore and Kumbakonam, showed profits, while the remaining four operated on loss last year.

The accumulated loss up to March 2004 (provisional) was Rs. 2,166.39 crores. The increase in overall expenditure, non-revision of fare and frequent increase in the price of high-speed diesel were among the reasons the Transport Minister, R. Viswanathan, cited for the continuing losses.

The Government had amalgamated 21 corporations into seven "in order to reduce the administrative overhead and to avoid wasteful competition in the operation of services among the corporations," according to a note on performance review tabled in the Assembly today. The losses grew this year mainly because of the loss incurred by the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) to the tune of Rs. 1,282.88 lakhs. It showed a profit of Rs. 3,566.87 lakhs in 2002-03.

Run-down health

The State Express Transport Corporation's negative balance grew from Rs. 3,137.86 lakhs (2002-03) to Rs. 3,542.42 lakhs. The financial health of most of the corporations was so poor that the Government had to give them a short-term loan for working capital (Rs.30.8 crores); another short-term loan for half-yearly motor vehicle tax payment (Rs.104.8 crores) and also for disbursing bonus (Rs. 22.66 crores).

The fleet strength, which was 16,670 in 2002-03, came down marginally during the period to 16,664. So did the number of routes (from 8,349 to 8,225) and of new routes introduced (from 63 in 2002-03 to 27 in 2003-04). Consequently, the number of villages which benefited by the services came down from 39 (2002-03) to 22 last year. But the effective kilometres covered rose from 22,937.4 lakhs in 2002-03 to 23,324.61 lakhs in 2003-04, says the consolidated statements on the performance of all State transport undertakings.

7,537 accidents

The corporations transported a total of 585.22 crore people last year and achieved a fleet utilisation of 92.17 per cent. The buses were involved in 7,537 accidents. As many as 1,446 persons lost their lives.

The State Express Transport Corporation purchased no new buses last year, while the MTC added a mere 39 to its fleet of 2,773. The TNSTC (Villupuram) added 224 new buses; the TNSTC (Salem) and the TNSTC (Kumbakonam) 125 each; the TNSTC (Coimbatore) received 110 buses, while the TNSTC (Madurai) added 50 new buses.

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