The Road Transport Corporation had paid an amount of Rs 32.5 crore in the span of three years from 2015 as compensation towards victims of bus accidents. There is no insurance cover for passengers who opt for RTC buses to travel, whether reserved or unreserved. The Railways, on the other hand provides insurance to its passengers, if their tickets are booked through the IRCTC website. The corporation is of the opinion that paying compensation is more profitable than paying premiums every year to insurance companies.
The official spokesperson of RTC, Kiran Reddy said that earlier there were plans regarding including the insurance amount in the price of the ticket for every passenger, but that did not work out for various reasons The Kerala Transport Corporation has also introduced insurance cover for its passengers. The decision was taken in 2015 and the state’s corporation is paying annual premiums every year to the New India Assurance Company.
According to the Motor Vehicles Act, there is no mandate that they have to take insurance. At the end of the day, it is RTC that has to take the call depending on the requirement. RTC depot managers decide the compensation amounts, depending on the severity of the case. An RTC official on condition of anonymity said, “It is really difficult for the corporation to pay premiums annually to the insurance companies for all the 10,500 buses in the RTC. The companies charge a hefty amount, so we have opted to pay the compensation amount rather than the insurance premiums. All these accidents are unfortunate events and we do not know what will happen when.”
“If we choose to pay compensation, only at the time of accidents we have to pay and if days are good there won't be any additional burden. However, if we choose insurance then there will be an additional burden on the corporation every year, which we cannot afford right now,” he said. A highly-placed source in the Corporation said that usually compensations are given by the court to the victims based on the severity and the status of the person injured from the corporation’s pocket, which would be around Rs 2lakh to Rs 3 lakh in case of death. There are fixed guidelines from the previous court judgements.
Heavy penalty for violations
Road Transport Corporation is also getting heavily burdened by the fines that they have to pay for traffic violations made by the drivers, be it jumping signals, rash driving, or using headset while driving. From 2017 to 2018 August, there were 3,650 cases on RTC buses for traffic violations and the penalty amount touched Rs 13 lakh. Traffic officials mentioned that there is a special system in place to capture violations of RTC Buses and e-Challans are sent to the concerned RTC Depots and the fines are deducted from the concerned driver’s salary.
Mr N. Srinivas, president, Telangana Mazdoor Union, Greater Hyderabad zone, has blamed the bad roads and poor signalling system, which is in place. “Sometimes at the signals, there will be green light appearing in both the directions, putting us in confusion. Also, we have targets shifts in place and we need to finish all the trips in the given time, which again cause stress among drivers, leading to all these violations. At the end of the day, it is we who have to pay the penalty.”
There is also other violations that are rampant and the drivers are not fined for these. According to Motor Vehicles Act, all heavy vehicles should keep to the left of the road so that the two-wheelers can use the road avoiding inconvenience and also it allows for the people to see the signals. Mr Venkata Ramana, a resident of Trimulgherry said, “Most bus drivers tend to come towards right, creating an obstacle for the rest of the commuters.”