KSRTC plans to run more budget charter services this Sabarimala pilgrimage season

KSRTC has entrusted its Budget Tourism Cell to operate chartered services in a major way in the upcoming Sabarimala season. File Photo: Manorama

Alappuzha: Buoyed by the recent High Court order allowing it to use its fleet of buses for tour and chartered services, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has entrusted its Budget Tourism Cell to operate chartered services in a major way in the upcoming three-month long Sabarimala pilgrimage season.

“For the first time, the BTC will play a major role in facilitating the commutation of Sabarimala pilgrims. This time around, we aim to cater to ten times the number of pilgrims compared to the last season when the group booking system was introduced. We’re holding talks with the Railways, temple managements, and various associations for this. Already, we’ve got confirmed group bookings for over 50,000 pilgrims,” said a senior official in charge of the operations.

During the previous season, the Budget Tourism Cell conducted only 600 chartered trips, mainly from Chengannur railway station (105 trips). This time around, the operations will be from across the state, though a lion’s share of the chartered services will be from Ernakulam, Chengannur, and Kottayam railway stations.

A high-level meeting held at the state capital on Thursday decided not to effect any hike in the charges for chartered trips. “A bus will leave for Pamba if there are a minimum of 40 passengers. It will be non-stop service, and other regular passengers won’t be allowed to board,” the official added.

Already 75 buses, including Fast Passenger, Super-Fast, and Super Deluxe categories, have been pooled. “We’re holding talks with railways with regard to the special trains being run during the season. A final picture will emerge on November 10. If needed, more buses will be deployed for the chartered pilgrimage service,” he explained.

However, the KSRTC will deploy air-conditioned buses only in the nearly 20-km Pamba-Nilakkal section for which a special festive rate will be levied. A total of 60 Volvo AC low-floor buses will be deployed throughout the season.

Apart from chartered Budget Tourism services, the corporation has decided to deploy 140 low-floor non-AC, 285 Fast and Super-Fast, 15 Super Deluxe, 10 Super Express, and three short-wheelbase buses, which will conduct services from all across the state. The corporation has set up 14 Special Service Centres across the state for the smooth conduct of the Pamba services.

The financially struggling entity rakes in profits by operating special services to Pampa during the three-month-long pilgrimage season every year. Last season, it generated a record one-day collection of Rs 8.48 crore on January 16, 2023.

This time around, the Sabarimala temple will open for Mandala Pooja Maholsavam on November 16. The first leg of the pilgrimage season will end on December 27. The temple will again reopen on December 30 for the ‘Makaravilakku festival, which will conclude by January 20.

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.