At the helm of Asia’s largest transport network (APSRTC), AK Khan has big plans for the 1.25 lakh strong staff. It all begins with a ‘zero accident week’ from Monday
The erstwhile commissioner of police and now managing director of the APSRTC has a dream — to make the RTC drivers physically fit and mentally alert so that they can ferry passengers safely to their destination.
Many say he is asking for the moon. But Khan who commanded the 10,000 City constabulary with aplomb is not to be dissuaded. What if the RTC has 1.25 lakh employees? He could manage them. So he has ordered a ‘zero accident week’ to be observed from July 16.
The first requisite will be a strict diet regimen for all, especially drivers, followed by a medical check- up, yoga and games. An important aspect being attempted is a behavioural change — attracting passengers, stop and pickup, better conduct from staff and increasing buses by scheduling timetable on profitable routes.
It’s a perennial complaint that the RTC drivers are boorish, do not bother to pick and drop passengers to their convenience thus driving a chunk of passengers to the private buses. This attitude has also contributed, besides others, to the ever increasing loss to the corporation. It has an accumulated a loss of Rs3,500 crore.
Being a cop at heart, Khan has put safety first in his agenda, the pre-requisite of which is an alert staff.
Khan says that only a healthy driver can ensure safety to the passengers. All the employees of RTC will focus on strict diet regime, most importantly the drivers should also attend ‘yoga classes’. Sickly, pot-bellied drivers invite trouble. Imagine what will happen if a driver gets at the wheels after a sumptuous biryani! What to eat and how much, will be taught.
Another focus area will be to improve the condition of 4,000 PHB (private-hired buses). The RTC is hoping to bring these buses on par with RTC-norms.
On safety record
“This year, the RTC has made the best safety record of 0.08 per cent on the overall route of 1 lakh kilometers. This is the best safety record, amongst all the public sector undertakings,” exudes AK Khan. “Compared to private operators, we have a rigorous selection system and good training. Moreover a refresher course is conducted at regular intervals,” he adds.
Mazdoor union strike from August 14
About the looming threat of strike by the mazdoor union, AK Khan agreed that some of their demands are legitimate and ought to be met. Talks have already been initiated. Some of their demands can be partly addressed and some may not, he hinted.
On curbing losses
The RTC has recorded `585 crore in loss in losses 2011 and `3,500 crores as accumulated loss. “Each day close to `2 crore is the loss,” says AK Khan. Few of the important reasons he cites are low occupancy ratio (OR) and non-compliance of fuel efficiency standards.
Another reason is the private buses, which are actually contract carriages, but are running as stage carriages. To curb this trend, the transport department has conducted raids and strategy has helped in controlling the problem. Thirty AMVIs (assistant motor vehicle inspectors) are on deputation from police department to curb the menace. By engaging them on operational routes taken by some others illegally, the RTC is reducing the loss.
According to AK Khan, out of 28,000 villages in the State, 23,000 villages are of service priority and the remaining 5,000 are left out. This means that the RTC has to look into providing for the remaining villages.
Some good quality buses will be part of RTC services. Some 2,000 new buses will part of the service in the coming days. 1,220 old buses would be replaced with 780 new ones.