The proposal of the state government for additional funds of Rs 60-cr from the Centre under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) for acquiring 400 more buses to improve the transport services in and around Shimla city has hit a roadblock when Finance Department raised an objection on the grounds that the JNNURM was a one-time component and as such additional funds could not be granted.
Government is seeking funds for the extra buses to strengthen the local bus services in the state capital by covering the peripheral areas located at a distance of 50 km to 60 km from where people commute daily for work. The proposal also envisages induction of additional buses to improve the connectivity to the new bus stand. Till now, state has got Rs 6.75 crore under the scheme and has purchased 75 buses, which have been in operation for the past two years. However, the HRTC has been incurring heavy losses and the annual loss came to Rs 1.02 crore last year. In contrast, it is earning Rs 69 lakh annually by outsourcing the operation of 21 local taxi routes to provide transport facilities to senior citizens on restricted routes.
On an average, local buses cover only about 130 km to 140 km a day and the gap in income and expenditure ranges from Rs 4 to Rs 5 per km per bus. If peripheral areas up to 50 km are covered as proposed, the operation of the local bus service will become economical as the average mileage per vehicle will go up. All this will be possible only if the Centre approves the proposal.