The Transport Department will officially launch the 'Maha Lakshmi Free Bus' scheme on Saturday, December 9. Under the scheme, girls and women of all age groups and transgender persons who are domiciled in Telangana would be allowed to travel for free in the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) buses without any distance-based restriction. The state government passed a Government Order (GO) in this regard on December 8. The free transport scheme is one of the six guarantees promised by the Congress party during elections.
Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy will launch the scheme by flagging off the buses from the State Assembly premises at 1.30 pm. Members of the Legislative Assembly and council, Ministers and TSRTC officials will take part in the inauguration.
TSRTC Managing Director VC Sajjanar briefed the media about the guidelines and benefits of the scheme on December 7, and said that the initiative applies to travel in City Ordinary, Express, Metro Express, and Palle Velugu buses up to state borders. Women residents of Telangana can avail themselves of the service by producing valid identity cards and they will be issued a ‘Zero Ticket’.
“In the initial days, passengers will be allowed to travel without a ticket and the passenger numbers will be recorded. An electronic ticketing system will be introduced to issue zero tickets within four to five days. Based on the observation, the frequency of buses will be managed based on busy routes,” he said.
Sajjanar also elaborated on the expected impact on daily profits and said the government would reimburse the ticket amount to the transport corporation. “The daily total earnings of the TSRTC is Rs 14 crore. It will be reduced to half with the implementation of the scheme. However, the government will reimburse this amount,” he said.
The TSRTC Managing Director also added that the recent bus acquisitions and the introduction of electric buses were to mitigate potential losses. “Up to 776 buses were acquired in the last two years and 1,050 new buses will be introduced in coming years. In addition, 1,000 electric buses are also being introduced by the TSRTC, out of which 500 buses will be made available in rural areas,” he added.