Kochi: The ferries operated by the state water transport department (SWTD) are usually in much demand during summer vacations when an increased tourist flow would be witnessed.
The scenario, though, is much different this time with a drop in passenger footfalls due to ongoing heat-wave.
The department is forced to drop its plans to deploy additional 'Summer Special' boat services in regions like Ernakulam.
"We've readied boats, and daily wage crew for operating the additional services between 10 am and 6 pm, mainly to cater to tourists. The plan was to operate circular services touching Fort Kochi and Vypeen," said M. Sujith, Ernakulam traffic superintendent.
The average daily revenue collection from nine boats in the region is Rs 45, 000 and has not reflected any change despite the summer vacation ringing in. There was a substantial increase in ticket sales, an additional Rs 2000 to Rs 5000, during the same period last year.
"We can't start additional services without corresponding passenger increase. The usual tourist flow is not there this summer. As we're facing a shortage of permanent staff, daily wage employees will have to be deployed to operate them and payment to be made at the end of each day," the official said.
Meanwhile, passenger patronage of 'Vega 120', the fast ferry that boosts separate air-conditioned cabin, has gone up. The average daily revenue collection of the 120-passenger capacity boat operating in the 35-km Vaikom-Ernakulam section is now Rs 15, 000 as against Rs 10, 000 earlier.
"On holidays, the collection hovers around Rs 20, 000. Now more people are opting to travel in the AC cabin," said an SWTD official....