Road transport is the major mode of transportation due to the difficult topographical conditions of Himachal Pradesh. Over 90 percent of public do not own a car and must rely on public transportation. Public transit provides a basic mobility service to these persons and to all others without access to a car.
The Government is laying added emphasis on strengthening the public transport system in the State. The State Government has entrusted the responsibility of providing comfortable, reliable and safe transport facilities to the commuters of the state on the Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC).
The Corporation today have a fleet of 2642 buses which are plying on 2318 routes across the State and covering over 4.50 lakh kilometers daily. This includes roads passing through zig-zag, curvy, mountainous, harsh & tough terrains, and roads upto 15000 feet above sea level. This poses a big challenge to the crews, and requires highly efficient driving skills.
The State Government has taken various measures for improving the performance of HRTC. A pilot project for cashless ticketing is being started in Shimla town. Under this project, HRTC would issue Closed Loop Smart Cards for ticketing and it would solve the problems relating to the coins or change etc. Cash award of Rs. 1 lakh each would be given to driver and conductor in each year showing highest performance in Kilometers per litre and Rs. 1 lakh will be provided to the workshop man which would reduce the operational cost to the maximum extent.
In order to provide security to the passengers, CCTVs would be installed in 23 bus stands in the first phase. Similarly the process is on for installing CCTVs in luxury buses like Volvo. Helpline numbers 9418000529 and 980500529 have been started for the convenience of commuters. This efforts of the State Government has been well received as average 50-60 calls in respect of HRTC & Private buses are being received daily.
As many as 1147 new buses have been added to the HRTC fleet during past two and half years and 153 more such buses would shortly be added. These buses have been equipped with GPS, CCTV and passengers information system. To strengthen the luxury fleet of HRTC, order has already been placed to purchase 10 new Volvo buses which would available by the end of this month.
In order to cater to the need of high end and foreign tourists, the Corporation has also initiated the process to purchase 7 numbers seven seater luxury mini buses, which would ply on Shimla-Chandigarh, Manali-Chandigarh and Dharamsala-Chandigarh routes. Government is endeavouring to connect all the pilgrimages and historic places of the State with major towns by luxury bus services.
In order to make the HRTC self reliant, revenue enhancement is one of major concerns of the Government. To generate additional revenue 17 fitness centres have been started at different locations and till date the HRTC has earned Rs. 3.73 crores from this activity. This has also helped the private vehicle owners. The Corporation has generated additional revenue to the tune of Rs. 4.22 crores by displaying advertisements on HRTC buses. To generate additional revenue, 25 percent discount in fare will be provided to the person/parties hiring more than 50 buses from HRTC. Earlier, this discount was applicable for hiring 125 buses. Schools hiring five or more buses would also be provided 25 percent discount on fare.
The HRTC has introduced taxi services in Shimla town which is plying successfully on restricted routes and serving the people, particularly the senior citizens, ailing, physically challenged, women and children. Presently, this service is operational on Sanjauli-IGMC, Old Bus Stand to CTO Building, CTO Building to Chakkar and Kasumpti to High Court. The Corporation has initiated the process to introduce CNG buses for tourists on Manali-Rohtang routes.
Drivers and conductors are the back bone for the success of the corporation. Thus, the Government is committed for their welfare and is ensuring them best working conditions. 533 number of contractual staff has been regularized in the month of July, 2015 besides converted into contractual basis the services of 228 Piecemeal workers who had completed 5 years of service. Process to recruit the 500 drivers is in the final stage. The Corporation has given appointment to 130 eligible candidates under kith & kin policy during financial year 2014-15. To avoid accidents all field officers have been directed to ply the buses only after issue of fitness certificates.
Various steps have been taken by the State Government for the the welfare of HRTC employees. HRTC is paying pensions to 4330 persons from its own resources monthly by spending Rs. 8 crores. A special campaign was started by deputing a team to expedite pension cases and as a result pension cases upto March, 2015 have been cleared and 110 such cases have been finalised in last one month and Rs. 28.73 crores incurred on it. Leave encashment benefits amounting to Rs. 4.70 crores have been released to 164 pensioners from April, 2015. Gratuity of Rs. 5.23 crore has been released to 116 pensioners. A special team has been constituted to expedite GPF cases which finalized 91 cases during August, 2015.