The Bus and Car Operators Confederation of India (BOCI), representing private passenger transport operators and having a collective fleet of more than 15 lakh buses and 11 lakh cars, has sought government intervention to save the business from collapsing. “Having suffered a financial loss of ₹65,000 crore in two months, the business has no money to continue operations in June and is in the verge of collapse,” Prasanna Patwardhan, president, BOCI, told The Hindu.
He urged the government to do away with various taxes for a period of six months to one year for all buses and provide diesel at subsidised rates to city bus operators. He said social distancing norms due to the COVID-19 pandemic will make the city bus operations unviable unless the government supported them financially.
“A city bus with 40 seats used to carry 100 passengers in peak hours. Now it can take a maximum of 20 passengers. Without a steep fare hike, how will it be economically viable?” he asked. He said every day private operators ferried 30 crore passengers and even if 50% of them now come out post the lockdown, there would be a requirement of 2.5 times of the existing bus fleet to adhere to social distancing norms.
In a letter to the PM, BOCI said for job security of 1 crore people who have not been paid during the lockdown, the government should take up the responsibility to pay salaries for 3 months. BOCI sought rescheduling of all EMIs as businesses will have no money to pay. “Banks should be instructed to reschedule loans by giving at least six months moratorium period to all customers. It is not be fair for banks to book interest for the moratorium period and it should be waived off,” the letter said.
Urging banks and NBFCs to provide top-up working capital at low interest rates to resume business, BOCI asked insurers to extend the third party insurance policy by three months since all assets remained idle during the lockdown and there were no accident claims. “Insurance coverage should be given for the entire lockdown period, plus 15 days, without taking any additional premium. Insurance premium across category of vehicles should not be increased at least for this year,” BOCI said.
BOCI also asked government organisations working in public transport to immediately clear the pending bills to PPP partners as they had made sizeable investment in the public transport infrastructure. “Almost all government organisations have invoked force majeure clause to avoid paying us even the minimum assured business amount. Several of these PPP dependent businesses will go bankrupt, causing public inconvenience and creating chaotic situation,” Mr. Patwardhan added.