Since the COVID-19 lockdown, interstate public transport buses have not resumed as the two states failed to reach an agreement on various issues.

An APSRTC bus parked in a depot with water stagnated in front of itImage Credit:Picxy/Idrees Mohammed
news Transport Monday, November 02, 2020 - 08:24

The ongoing imbroglio over the running of Road Transport Corporation (RTC) buses between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana may end if high-level talks between the managing directors of the two state-owned corporations, slated for Monday in Hyderabad, are successful. 

Interstate public transport services between the two states have remained suspended since March 24, when the coronavirus-induced lockdown was first put in place. 

The services did not resume even after the Unlock measures came into force, as the two states were unable to reach an impasse by signing an interstate agreement over the distance covered by each corporation in the neighbouring state.

The lucrative Vijayawada-Hyderabad sector has become the main bone of contention between the two Telugu states, as Telangana insisted that Andhra Pradesh must forego the profitable route operations.

Lakhs of people in the two states remain without a public transport option as the standoff continued despite the complete opening of interstate borders as part of Unlock 4.

Executive directors of the Road Transport Corporations (RTC) held at least three rounds of talks, while the Managing Directors conferred once in mid-September, but to no avail.

The APSRTC eventually conceded to Telangana's demand and agreed to restrict its services to 1.61 lakh route kilometers only. The APSRTC also agreed to allow TSRTC to operate more services on the lucrative Hyderabad-Vijayawada route, official sources here said.

“We have agreed to Telangana's demands in public interest as otherwise people are suffering due to non-availability of public transport between the two states,” a senior APSRTC official said.

At the time of bifurcation in June 2014, APSRTC buses were running 3.37 lakh route kilometers to Telangana while the latter operated only 94,000 route kilometers. Over the last five years, Telangana increased its operations to 1.55 lakh route kilometers while AP brought it down to 2.65 lakh kilometers, the official said.

Since the formation of Telangana in June 2014, the AP Reorganisation Act enabled running of interstate public sector Road Transport Corporation bus services for five years without any formal agreement or permit. 

That arrangement ended in June 2019 but no fresh pact was signed between the two states, though there was never a break in RTC bus services till the COVID-19 lockdown came into force. 

But, as the lockdown restrictions were eased and operation of interstate bus services became possible, Telangana sought to seize the chance and put brakes on APSRTC buses.

Andhra Pradesh now hopes to firm up an agreement with Telangana after Monday's talks, sources added.

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