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Why not small buses?

It’s extremely disturbing - to say the least - to read about the woes of KSRTC, and the woes to other road users caused by KSRTC buses. The organization is the lifeline for ordinary citizens. Unfortunately though, it is not a thriving venture for now; and it seems that its buses are culpable in a tragically large number of road accidents. In this “blessed” state of India, where villages seamlessly transition to towns, most roads other than NH and a few stretches of bypass roads are too narrow to accommodate heavy vehicles. One is often bemused and amused to watch C segment luxury cars and enormous SUVs flow out of palatial premises to occupy unfair amounts of road space. Most streets and alleys seem to have been designed with only ‘Jaadas’ in mind. After all, such processions have arguably been the biggest users of road space over the decades. With multi-axle buses, whose presence on the roads is certainly much more justifiable than that of private cars, there’s nothing amusing. It’s painful to watch them negotiate impossible turns and curves and navigate amidst busy junctions. In such a state where land acquisition is difficult, slow, and mostly near-impractical, it seems unreasonable to hope for, or insist on roads broad enough to accommodate disproportionately huge, long, vestibuled high capacity buses, though they may be the best option in terms of fuel consumption per passenger mile. A World Bank evaluation on ‘Factors Influencing Bus System Efficiency with respect to Vehicle Size and Type’ carried out by Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility ( has pointed out the advantages of using buses smaller in size (and capacity). ( “Smaller vehicles are necessary on routes where road conditions inhibit the use of larger vehicles. This often applies when routes operate in high-density residential areas with very narrow streets. Other constraints on the operation of larger vehicles may include low or weak bridges, or terminals and depots with restricted access, as well as legislation restricting vehicle dimensions. Smaller buses can provide a higher frequency of service for a given passenger flow, which can improve the convenience of the service. Passengers also often prefer small buses because they are faster and take less time to load. Small vehicles also make it possible to offer a greater number of route variations, without adversely affecting service frequency.” With smaller buses, there are more possibilities: a) Car owners could be persuaded to switch to such public transport for travel to work. b) The buses could run on the cleaner fuel CNG, once the infrastructure and supply lines are in place to ensure ample supply. In the capital city of Trivandrum, and elsewhere in the state, town, road and transport planners can surely get together and look for alternatives to ease congestion, reduce pollution and ultimately make road travel safe for all.

Posted By : Swarna, On Feb 09, 2014 07:15:29 PM
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The KSRTC did have smaller 'van' type vehicles running on routes which didn't warrant the usage of full size 'odinary' buses, but my father tells me that the KSRTC employees were not happy with these buses as the number of employees required to maintain a bus was lesser and hence would reduce the number of job per bus. Due to this 'unhappiness', these buses apparently got damaged beyond repair very quickly. This is just an info from my father - I have not personally verified if this is true or not, but I have definitely seen the smaller buses plying low passenger density routes.
The Dark And Ugly Rough Skinned Keralite, on Feb 25, 2014 10:20:47 PM
Yes, the info looks to me having good basis. The bus operating from Interior Pappanamcode area was always running full though it was only 6 trips per day (Morning 3, evening 3). So they cannot say that it was not profitable. But the service was stopped for no reason. Vested interests like what is mentioned in one of the responses?
Balaji, on Aug 25, 2014 09:01:16 PM
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