Thiruvananthapuram:The public road transportservice in Kerala, which has been playing a major role in ferrying commoners in and across the state for several decades, turned 77, on Friday. The first public transport service in the state came into existence on February 20, 1938 under the banner 'Travancore State Transport'.
According to historians, Chithira Tirunal Balarama Varma, the visionary ruler of the erstwhile Travancore royal family launched the public transport service with an aim to ensure easy and cost effective mode of transportation for commoners. A fleet of 33 buses began to operate across Travancore after the official launch, local historian Malayinkeezhu Gopalakrishnan said.
"The royal family invited E G Salter, Assistant Superintendent of London Passenger Service Board, to help build buses and set up a road transport service. Salter was the person who created the standard design of the buses of Travancore state transport," he told PTI.
"Based on a report prepared by Salter, chassis for building over 40 buses had been imported from Britain. King Chithira Tirunal himself flagged off the first bus trip from Kowdiar here, the seat of the royal family, to Thampanoor on February 20, 1938," he said. Salter himself drove the first bus in which royal family members, including Chithira Tirunal and his sister Karthika Tirunal Lakshmi Bhai travelled.
The then Diwan (Prime Minister) C P Ramaswamy Aiyer and other special invitees travelled in other buses. People gathererd in large numbers on both sides of the road to witness the first trip, he said, quoting historical records.
"The first bus was operated in the Nagercoil-Kanyakumari route (now part of Tamil Nadu). Fares and bus stops were fixed and published. Conductors and drivers were appointed based on their educational qualifications. They were given uniforms also," Gopalakrishnan said.
The public transport service was extended to Kochi and Malabar (north Kerala) during the post-independence period. The present Kerala Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) was
set up in 1965. The transport officials and employees today organised several programmes to mark the 77th anniversary of the public transport service in the state.