The lull in demand for tourist buses and vans due to the pandemic has led to around 60% of them remaining idle this year as well. Subsequently, most owners have preferred to submit G-form to the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) for the second year in a row, in order to avail exception from the mandatory tax that has to be paid every quarter.
Many parking yards in the city have dust-covered vans and buses that have not operated service for a year due to low demand.
A few buses and vans have resumed service although their trips are generally confined to the weekend. Over 50% of private buses that operated in Kochi had resumed service earlier this year, with the patronage for public transport slowly increasing from next to nil in much of 2020.
Among van owners who have cancelled the G-form for their vehicles and intending to resume service is Vysakh Jayraj. “All four tyres of my van which operated tours and school trips had to be replaced since they suffered irreparable damage due to non-operation of service for about a year. I painted the vehicle myself, to renew the annual fitness certificate, to save on expenses,” he said.
“Most van owners still operate as per the old tariff despite much higher price of diesel and other expenses. This is apart from mandatory payments like loan repayment, quarterly tax and insurance. In addition, a substantial sum has to be set apart for the overdue loan instalment and the interest that has accrued over the past year. Many banks are sending legal notice too. Even worse, insurance premium has increased from ₹17,000 to ₹32,000. Another ₹8,000 had to be raised to install GPS, which is mandatory from this year,” he said. Faced with no income, many drivers had taken up selling vegetables and fish, added Mr. Jayaraj.
The owner of Vyttila-based Princy Tours and Travels, Titus Etturuthil, said that he planned to extend the tenure of the G-form that was submitted for a bus. “The insurance I paid in 2020 went waste since the bus did not operate service for the past eight months. The tyres and batteries too have to be replaced. Likewise, the ₹40,000-worth works done a month before the lockdown for fitness test, was of no use,” he said.