BENGALURU: The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) began a trial run of its high-end service last year up to Pampa which became popular among pilgrims headed to Sabarimala from Bengaluru. Spurred by the success, KSRTC now plans to run special buses for the busy Mandala-Makaravilakku season from key depots across the state.
Earlier, vehicles of pilgrims going to Sabarimala were allowed to go up to Nilakkal. Pilgrims had to then park their vehicles and board Kerala buses or take the electric vehicles run by the Devaswom Board to complete their journey which prompted KSRTC to run special buses up to Pampa on a trial basis last year.
“Single-axle Volvo buses to Pampa saw a huge success last year and that was when we decided to run high-end Airavata buses. We agree that all buses were very old because that was only a trial run. But the response was tremendous because we operated buses for four days a week and saw an earning of Rs 45.77 per km. We hope to continue the service this year and we are introducing new Volvo buses and AC sleeper coaches this season," said a senior KSRTC official.
“We are yet to receive new AC and non-AC sleeper coaches and we hope to get them by November-end. Most of the special buses will be used to ferry pilgrims to Sabarimala. We have also received requests to operate multi-axle Volvo buses but they are difficult to run on Kerala’s roads. But there will be a lot of changes this year like operations, route map, timings and more to help pilgrims and it will be decided soon," a KSRTC official said.
Last year, KSRTC received complaints that buses were run via Mysuru instead of Salem which many commuters felt was a better route. However, KSRTC officials explained that it was because it helped pilgrims going from Mysuru.
"We heard that no vehicles were allowed from Nilakkal. At the same time KSRTC introduced high-end Volvo services and it was a very good experience because we didn’t have to bother about the parking at Nilakkal. Hope this facility will be continued this year too. My advice to the corporation is to go along the Salem route as it is a highway and we can reach our destination faster," said Shankar K.L., a devotee from Bengaluru.
Kerala transport authorities said vehicles will be stopped at Nilakkal this year too, because of the devastation caused by floods at Pampa.