Kerala State Road Transport Corporation

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Kerala State Road Transport Corporation
Native name
Aanavandi
Public-sector corporation under the Ministry of Transport, Government of Kerala
IndustryPublic transport
Founded20 February 1938; 81 years ago (1938-02-20) : as Travancore State Transport Department (TSTD)
1 April 1965; 54 years ago (1965-04-01) :as Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KeralaStateRTC)
Headquarters
Areas served
Kerala
Tamil Nadu
Karnataka
Mahe District of Puducherry
Key people
M.P. Dinesh (managing director)
ServicesBus transport
Courier service
RevenueIncrease 2,165.156 crore (US$310 million)[1][2] (2015–16)
Decrease -738.768 crore (US$−110 million) (2015–16)
SubsidiariesKerala Urban Road Transport Corporation (KURTC)
Websitewww.keralartc.com

Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) is a state-owned road transport corporation in the Indian state of Kerala. It is one of the country's oldest state-run public bus transport services. The corporation is divided into three zones (South, Central and North, and its headquarters is in Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala's capital city). Daily scheduled service has increased from 1,200,000 kilometres (750,000 mi) to 1,422,546 kilometres (883,929 mi),[3] using 6,241 buses on 6,389 routes.[4] The corporation transports an average of 3.145 million passengers per day.

Small bus on a narrow road
KSRTC Bus at Parambikulam Tiger Reserve

History[edit]

Travancore State Transport Department[edit]

The corporation's history dates back to before the formation of Kerala, making it one of India's oldest state-operated public road transport services. The Travancore government, headed by King Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, decided to establish the Travancore State Transport Department (TSTD) to improve the existing public-transport system. A committee was formed, and it was decided that expert advice was needed. London Passenger Transport Board assistant operating superintendent E. G. Salter joined the committee on 20 September 1937, and began working on the project.[5][6][7]

Initially, the department imported 60 Commer PNF3 chassis from England. Under Salter's supervision, they were fitted with Perkins Lynx diesel engines. The bus bodies were built by department staff, and Travancore Dewan C. P. Ramaswami Iyer insisted on using local wood. The body shop (supervised by Salter) was originally in Chakai, and was later moved to Pappanamcode. Salter's experimental body design became standard on the rest of the buses.[8][9]

Most of the private operators on the Trivandrum-Kanyakumari route had to close when the roads were nationalized, and many experienced drivers, conductors, and inspectors lost their jobs. TSTD recruited them, and Salter selected 60 people out of 81 applicants. Nearly one hundred applicants with bachelor's degrees were employed as inspectors and conductors.[10]

The state road-transport service was inaugurated on 20 February 1938 by Maharaja Sree Chithira Thirunal, who (with his family, Col. Goda Varma Raja, and other dignitaries) rode the first bus on the Main Road to Kowdiar Square; Salter drove the bus. A fleet of 33 buses and a large crowd joined in the celebration. On 21 February 1938, the first bus operated from Trivandrum to Kanyakumari.[11][12]

The early buses had 23 leather seats. Entry was through the rear, and the buses had a centre aisle. Ten first-class seats were in the front. Schedules, fares and stops were published, and a parcel service began in which goods could be delivered by designated agents. Conductors wore khaki with a white topi, and inspectors wore khaki. Conductors had machines to issue tickets. Later buses were manufactured by Dodge, Fargo, Bedford, and Chevrolet.[8]

The TSTD operated on three routes: Trivandrum-Nagercoil, Nagercoil-Kanyakumari, and Nagercoil-Colachal. Regular service began on 21 February 1938 with 39 buses. The minimum fare for one mile was one-half chakram The next fare was one chakram, and first-class tickets were 50 percent more. Children under age three travelled free, and those between three and 14 paid half the fare. Luggage under 28 pounds (13 kg) was free; 28–56 pounds (13–25 kg) was four chakrams, and 56–112 pounds (25–51 kg) was six chakrams.[8][10]

The Motor Vehicle Act was passed in 1939. Bus service was extended to Cochin in 1949, and to the Malabar region in 1956.[8]

Kerala State Road Transport Corporation[edit]

Line of old buses
Thrissur KSRTC bus station during the 1950s

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) was established by the Kerala government on 15 March 1965 after the Road Transport Corporation Act, which came into force in 1950. The Transport Department became an autonomous corporation on 1 April 1965. [10]

At the time, there were 661 bus routes and 36 lorry routes. The corporation's fleet consisted of 901 buses, 51 lorries, and 29 other vehicles; thirty buses and eight lorries were new. Ten old buses, seven lorries, and one tractor-trailer were converted to other uses.[10] The KLX registration series was reserved for the KSRTC. On 1 July 1989, KSRTC buses began registration at a dedicated RTO in Trivandrum with the KL-15 registration series.[13]

In 2001 K. B. Ganesh Kumar became transport minister, and his brief tenure brought beneficial changes to the corporation. KSRTC was the first state to introduce Volvo buses into its fleet. Body work was outsourced, and the buses' contemporary design was publicized as high-tech. Kumar commissioned Sabu Cyril to redesign the bus livery. Low-entry, air suspension buses were introduced in Trivandrum, and minibus service began. The changes attracted passengers, making the corporation profitable.[14]

The Kerala government issued a notification in 2012 suspending new permits for inter-district buses, exempting the KSRTC. Although it was assumed that the corporation would assume those routes, it created a shortage of service from Kochi to several northern districts. CPPR research and projects director Madhu Sivaraman conducted a study of KSRTC-private bus options.[15]

Fleet[edit]

The corporation has a fleet of 6241 buses consisting Volvo, Scania, Ashok Leyland, Tata Motors, Eicher Motors and minibuses.[16][13] The vehicles owned by KSRTC is registered under a dedicated RTO at Thiruvananthapuram with a registration series KL-15.

Fleet numbering system[edit]

Although KSRTC has a dedicated RTO (Regional Transport Officer) to register its fleet, all its buses have bonnet numbers (for internal identification) adjacent to the depot mark at the front of the vehicle.[17][18][19] RPE981, a typical fleet number, can be split into three parts: RP, E and 981. RP indicates the vehicle series, derived from the word transport; each series contains 1,000 vehicles. During the 1960s, KSRTC began assigning the serial number T to its buses; R followed the first 1,000 buses, followed by A and so on until the P series. Repetitive letters and the letter O were exempted. Later, two-letter combinations were used to identify bus series. The 1,000th bus in each series is numbered with a multiple of 1,000, indicating the total number of buses introduced by the corporation.[17][20]

T 1962 - 1966
R 1966 - 1971
A 1973 - 1978
N 1979 - 1983
S 1983 - 1986
P 1986 - 1989
TR 1989 – 1993
TA 1993 – 1995
TN 1995 – 1997
TS 1997 – 2000
TP 2000 – 2004
RT 2004 – 2006
RR 2006 – 2008
RA 2008 – 2010
RN 2010 – 2012
RS 2012 – 2015
RP 2015 - 2016
AT 2016 -

The second part (E in the example) denotes the KSRTC workshop where the body work was done, and is absent on buses purchased fully built and outsourced bodywork. KSRTC owns five workshops: one central and four regional:[20]

Code Workshop
C Central Workshop, Pappanamcode, Thiruvananthapuram
M Regional Workshop, Mavelikkara
A Regional Workshop, Aluva
E Regional Workshop, Edappal
K Regional Workshop, Kozhikode

The third part is the vehicle number of the series. In addition to this system, a TE was assigned to 144 buses built in Edappal from 1997 to 2003. Their depot vehicles are numbered in a D series, and the oil tankers are numbered in a TT series. The corporation has several ambulances, numbered AV. Buses procured as part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission are numbered JN.[20]

Services[edit]

front of a modern bus
Garuda Maharaja service, operated with Scania Metrolink HD buses
Garuda Maharaja
Introduced in 2016, Garuda Maharaja is the corporation's flagship service and uses Scania Metrolink HD 13.7-metre (45 ft) coaches. The buses have reclining seats with footrests and calf support, and radio and television in the front and centre. Water bottles and blankets are optional. Garuda Maharaja service is available on long-distance interstate routes, and most run on the ThiruvananthapuramBangalore route.[21][22][23]
Garuda King Class
Premium service, introduced in 2014, on 10 air-conditioned Euro III Volvo 9400 XL B9R multi-axle buses with amnesties similar to Garuda Maharaja.[24]
Garuda Sanchari
KSRTC operates two-axle Volvo buses in its Garuda Sanchari service (sanchari means "passenger" in Malayalam). The service was introduced by K. B. Ganesh Kumar in 2002. The first vehicles, two Volvo Euro III B7R Mark1 (TP620 and TP621) were the first Volvo buses introduced by a road transport corporation. One bus operated on the Trivandrum–Palakkad route and the other operated on the Trivandrum-Kozhikkode route until 2008. In 2008, KSRTC acquired three Volvo 9400 B7R Mark III buses.[25][26][27][28][29]
Super Deluxe Air Bus
The non-air conditioned, white buses with streaks of tri-color on the sides can charge mobile phones and laptops, and have rear-axle air suspension. They are built on Ashok Leyland and Tata chassis. All passengers are guaranteed a seat.[30][31] The KSRTC's oldest deluxe service operates between Kannur and Thiruvananthapuram. Started in 1967, it was part of the 1969 film Kannur Deluxe (the service's nickname). Large parts of the film were shot inside a bus.[32][33][34][35]
Minnal
Long-distance, limited-stop deluxe night buses which use bypass roads to avoid traffic and save time. The maximum number of stops for Minnal service (minnal means "lightning" in Malayalam) is eight. The 41-seat, red-and-white buses (with lightning bolts) have 2+2 reclining seats and rear-axle air suspension.[36] The service was introduced in June 2017, under managing director M. G. Rajamanikyam. Its color scheme was chosen to enhance nighttime visibility.[37] The buses are built in-house on Ashok Leyland 160 hp Viking 222’’ (ALPSV 4/186) BS III and Tata LPO 1512c EX/58 BS III air suspension chassis.[38][39]
Sabari Air Bus
Introduced in 2016 as a service for Sabarimala pilgrims. The buses have a forest-themed livery to increase awareness of the environmentally-sensitive Periyar National Park. The buses (with facilities and fares similar to deluxe buses) also run throughout Kerala and interstate, and are built on Ashok Leyland BS III Viking 160 hp (ALPSV 4/186) and Tata LPO 1512c EX/58 BS III air-suspension chassis.[40][41]
Super Express Air Bus
Green-and-yellow buses, with paint inspired by chundan vallam, have deluxe features at a lower fare. Super Express buses have more stops than deluxe buses, and standees are permitted.[42] The fleet includes buses built in-house on Ashok Leyland 160 hp Viking 222 BS III (ALPSV 4/186) and Tata LPO 1512c EX/58 BS III air-suspension chassis.
Super Fast Passenger (SFP)
Red-and-yellow bus
SFP bus, built by the Edappal Regional Workshop, running towards Kozhikkod
Non-air-conditioned, 3+2 buses which operate on long, intercity routes. Super Fast buses, with fewer stops than Fast Passenger buses but more than Super Express, are built on Ashok Leyland, Tata and Eicher chassis.[42] The service began in early 1992 as an improvement of the Fast Passenger service.
Sandeshavahini
Super Fast buses with water-conservation messages (sandeshavahini means "messenger" in Malayalam), pamphlets, posters, and other publicity materials for distribution[43] KSRTC introduced the service in March 2017 with 15 buses, one for each district (except Thiruvananthapuram, which has two). The bus bodies were fabricated at KSRTC's Edappal regional workshop on Eicher 20.15 N LPO BS III and Ashok Leyland BS III 160 hp Viking 222]] (ALPSV 4/186) chassis.
Fast Passenger (FP)
Red-and-yellow bus
Fast Passenger bus
Non-air-conditioned, 3+2 service on intercity routes. FP routes have fewer stops than ordinary service. The buses are built on Tata, Ashok Leyland and Eicher chassis.
Limited Stop Fast Passenger (LSFP)
LSFP service is FP service stopping at Super Fast stops.
Rajadhani Point-to-Point
Yellow bus
Rajadhani bus
Nonstop FP service in Trivandram,Palakkad Calicut and Wayanad districts.[44] Introduced in Trivandram district as ring road service in 2012, it was introduced in the Malabar region (connecting Calicut to Wayanad and Palakkad districts) the following year.[45][46][47]
Ordinary
KSRTC's most basic service, the red-and-yellow buses have bench 3+2 or 2+2 seats. Older Super Class buses are usually converted and used for ordinary service.
Town-to-Town (TT)
TT service, charging ordinary fares with fewer stops,[48][49] was introduced during the mid-1990s.
Ananthapuri Fast/City Fast
Ananthapuri Fast are blue-and-white City Fast buses in Thiruvananthapuram. City Fast buses also operated in Ernakulam district, and their fare is slightly higher than ordinary fare.[50]
Limited Stop Ordinary
Ordinary buses with fewer stops, introduced during the mid-1990s.
Malabar/Venad/Thiru Kochi
Introduced as limited-stop ordinary service, the buses are also used for ordinary service.[51][52][53]
White-and-blue bus
Venad bus, built on an Ashok Leyland chassis, heading towards Kumily
Venad service, introduced in July 2005, was limited-stop ordinary services. New buses were inducted to operate ordinary service. The buses had two doors, a better interior and seating, a one-piece windshield, an all-steel body, a seating capacity of 53, and a low footboard. The bodies were built in-house.[54]
AC Low Floor Bus
KSRTC operates air-conditioned, low-floor buses on city and intercity routes. Stopping at all Fast Passenger stops, the Volvo B7R LE and 8400 BS IV buses were acquired under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNRUM).[55][56][57][58]
Non-AC Low-Floor/Semi-Low-Floor Bus
KSRTC operates non-air-conditioned buses (purchased under the JNNRUM Phase 1) on short routes. The low-floor Ashok Leyland RESLF BS III, Ashok Leyland 225 hp 12M FESLF and Tata Starbus Urban 9/12 BS III built on 1618 SLF by Marcopolo and ACGL buses stop at all Fast Passenger stops.[59][60][61][62]
Double-Decker Buses
Red-and-yellow double-decker bus
Double-decker bus at the Angamaly bus station

KSRTC operates double-decker buses in Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam districts at ordinary fare. The Ashok Leyland Titan (BS III 123 kW) buses have bonnet numbers RN766 and RN765.[63][64][65][66]

Travancore State Transport Department superintendent E. G. Salter imported double-decker buses in 1937. KSRTC also used one of the original AEC Routemasters in Kochi on a route from Palarivattom to Willingdon Island from the 1960s to the late 1970s. A court, faced with non-payment by the KSRTC, ordered the seizure of the Kochi double-decker until the debt was paid.[67]

Thiruvanathapuram originally had 15 British Leyland double-decker buses, serially numbered from DD1 to DD15, with bodies built at KSRTC Central Workshop in Thiruvananthapuaram. The buses had a semi-automatic transmission, with no clutch. The last five buses were moved to Eranakulam district. KSRTC launched two double-decker buses (serial numbers TR555 and TR666) during the 1990s.[68][69][70][71]
Articulated buses
KSRTC owns an Ashok Leyland Vestibule (BS III 123 kW) bus, which operates in Thiruvananthapuram district. Passengers pay ordinary fares.[72] Trailer buses had Ashok Leyland tractor units and Allwyn trailers.[65]

Discontinued services[edit]

Terraplane
KSRTC's flagship luxury service during the 1970s operated nonstop between Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam. Introduced by transport minister R. Balakrishna Pillai, buses had onboard toilets and a reservation system. Two Ashok Leyland buses with bonnet numbers A555, A666 and a super-deluxe bus (numbered 4000) were used for the service, which was discontinued due to a high accident rate.
Lightning Express
Long distance, limited-stop service during the 1990s. The silver buses were later converted to Volvos.[73][74][75]
White Express
Red-and-white buses which operated during the 1990s
Silver Line Jet
Introduced in 2015 as a successor to the Lighting Express, the limited-stop intrastate service had reclining seats, a CCTV camera, Wi-Fi, and charging facilities for laptops and mobile phones. It was discontinued due to low ridership, reportedlu caused by lack of air suspension and high fares. The 41-seat buses were fabricated in-house on Ashok Leyland BS III 160 hp Viking 222’’ (ALPSV 4/186) and Eicher 20.15 N LPO BS III chassis.[74][75][76][77][78]
Pink Bus
KSRTC launched the women-only city fast service in Thiruvananthapuram district in 2017. The buses had women conductors. Two old Ashok Leyland 160 hp Viking BS III 222’’ (ALPSV 4/186) pink super-fast buses were used for the service. However, the buses failed to attract passengers.[79][80]
Minibus
KSRTC's minibus service, introduced in 2003, was the first of its kind in India. With a capacity of 25 to 30 seats, the buses were ideal for some routes and stopped at passenger request. The service was discontinued due to bus-durability concerns.[25][81]
Ananthapuri Air Bus
Introduced in 2005 in Thiruvananthapuram, the service was a predecessor of low-floor buses. With two doors and a long body, the buses could carry almost twice as many passengers as other buses. Intended for tourists, the semi-low floor (635mm), rear engine, non-air-conditioned bus by Ashok Leyland Panther chassis (ALPS 3/22) had a body built by Irizar – TVS.[82] With H-series turbocharged engines conforming to BS-II emission standards the 42 seater buses also had front and rear air suspension. KSRTC had a total 4 of them with serial numbers RT599, RT600, RT601, and RT602. These buses had dark blue lines on white background paintjob.[83][25]
AC Air Deluxe
White bus with a tricolor swoosh
RT962, a Tata AC Air Bus owned by KSRTC

A short-lived air-conditioned service was launched in 2005 after the first Volvo buses. There were 10 buses: five Tata (built by Popular) and five Ashok Leyland, built by Irizar TVS. The Tata buses were built on LPO 1616/62 BS-II chassis with engine-driven (direct-drive) air-conditioning, and the AL chassis were 177  hp 12M BS-II (ALPSV 4/86) with air-conditioning driven by a slave engine.

At the end of 2007, KSRTC added 20 Tata Globus 45 buses to its fleet. The buses with tri-colour streaks on a white background, had reclining seats and recharging facilities for mobile phones.[84]

Kerala Urban Road Transport Corporation[edit]

In November 2014, Kerala Urban Road Transport Corporation (KURTC, with its headquarters in Kochi) was formed to operate low-floor buses procured with financial assistance from the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).[85]

Zones[edit]

KSRTC has three zones.[86][87][88]

Name Districts Headquarters
South Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta Thiruvananthapuram
Central Alappuzha, Idukki, Thrissur, Kottayam, Ernakulam Kochi
North Malappuram, Palakkad, Kozhikkode, Wayanad, Kannur, Kasargod Kozhikode

The Thiruvananthapuram (south) zone, which includes three districts, has more buses. The north zone (which includes six districts) has 945 buses, most long-distance.[89]

Depots and workshops[edit]

KSRTC has 28 depots, 45 sub-depots, 19 operating centres, 28 stationmaster offices, five workshops and three staff-training colleges throughout the state.[90] In 1995, the corporation established the Sree Chitra Thirunal College of Engineering in Pappanamcode at its central workshop.

KSRTC has 28 station master (SM) offices in Ambalapuzha, Ayoor, Eenchakkal, Ernakulam Jetty, Ettumanoor, Iritty, Kadakkal, Kaliyakkavila, Kuthiyathode, Malayilkeezh, Mundakkayam, Nagarcoil, Ochira, Pattambi, Pothencode, Puthenkurishu, Tirur, Valanchery, Varkala, Vytila Hub, and staff-training colleges in Trivandrum, Ernakulam and Edappal.[90]

Fares[edit]

A handful of bus tickets
Stack of bus tickets. Today, electronic ticketing machines are used.

KSRTC uses a fare-stage system to calculate fares.[91][92]

Fare table
Service class Minimum fare Rate per km for travel above minimum fare
City/Ordinary Rs.8 70 paise
City Fast Rs.8 75 paise
Fast Passenger/LSFP Rs.11 75 paise
Super Fast Passenger Rs.15 78 paise
Super Express Rs.22 85 paise
Super Deluxe Rs.30 100 paise
Luxury/Hi-tech and AC Rs.44 120 paise
Garuda Sanchari/Biaxle Premium Rs.45 145 paise
Garuda Maharaja/ Garuda King Class/ Multi-axle Premium Rs.90 145 paise
A/C Low Floor Rs.20
Non A/C Low Floor Rs.10

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