Kumarakom: Several private buses conducting trips to the world-renowned tourism destination of Kumarakom in the Kottayam district of Kerala are stopping their services as there are few passengers during the COVID-19 crisis. Already eight private buses have ceased running and more would follow suit this week.
In total, 40 private buses have been issued permits on the routes connecting Kottayam and Kumarakom. These buses plied to places such as Cherthala and Vaikom. According to bus operators, most of these buses start from Cherthala and Vaikom with mere 10-12 passengers these days. Along the way, a maximum of another 10 persons may board. With the fall in the number of passengers, the buses rescheduled their timings, but that did not help improve the ticket collections.
Private buses had hardly recovered from the steep losses caused by the first wave of the pandemic when the second wave struck. According to Jomon Veliyath, a bus owner, “It is difficult even to find money to pay the salaries of the bus staff. At present, they are paid whatever is left after reducing the running cost from the daily ticket collection. However, that is much lesser than their salary. Meanwhile, the bus owner gets nothing.”
“Making matters worse, there is no money to carry out repairs and other maintenance works,” he added.
The buses of the public carrier KSRTC on the route are also operating with very few passengers.