Amaravati, Sep 4 (PTI): Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are at loggerheads over running inter-state bus services, despite complete opening of borders as part of Unlock.4.
Thousands, if not lakhs, of people in the two states remain without a public transport option as the two states are locked in a standoff over routes.
Private bus operators are expected to grab the opportunity and exploit the passengers if the stalemate persists for long, it is feared.
The lucrative Vijayawada-Hyderabad sector has become the main bone of contention between the two Telugu states as Telangana is reportedly insisting that AP forego the profitable route operations.
Though it does not possess adequate number of buses to meet the passenger demand on the Vijayawada-Hyderabad sector, Telangana is said to be adamant on monopolising it.
Telangana is sour that its limited services to Vijayawada from Hyderabad are sparsely patronised, causing a loss to its Road Transport Corporation.
As two rounds of talks so far between officials concerned of the states did not break the deadlock, they are now banking on a possible political intervention to end the tussle and get the buses back on roads.
AP Transport Minister Perni Venkataramaiah is expected to open negotiations on Monday to resolve the ongoing crisis and ensure the bus services between the states are resumed at the earliest, authoritative sources said.
Post-formation of Telangana in June 2014, the AP Reorganisation Act enabled running of inter-state public sector Road Transport Corporation bus services for five years without any formal agreement or permit.
That arrangement ended in June 2019 but no fresh pact was signed between the two states, though there was never a break in RTC bus services till the COVID-19 lockdown came into force on March 25.
But as the lockdown restrictions were eased and operation of inter-state bus services became possible, Telangana sought to seize the chance and put brakes on AP buses.
'At the time of bifurcation in June 2014, APSRTC buses were running 3.37 lakh route kilometers to Telangana while the latter operated only 94,000 route kilometers.
Over the last five years, Telangana increased its operations to 1.55 lakh route kilometers while AP brought it down to 2.65 lakh kilometers, a top official of the AP Transport said.
Andhra Pradesh was hitherto running 500 services to Telangana per day, out of which 400-odd were to Hyderabad city only.
'Hyderabad services are the biggest revenue earners and Telangana now wants to grab it all.
It wants us to cut the route kilometers by one lakh kilometers though we agreed to reduce 50,000 kilometers.
We also asked Telangana to enhance its own operations by 50,000 kilometers to bring parity.
Still, it has not come forward to sign an agreement and resume interstate services,' the Transport official noted.
'We have inter-state agreements with neighbouring states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Odisha, but we never had any problem.
In fact, in some cases we continue to operate the services despite non-renewal of formal agreements, the official pointed out. PTI DBV APR RAVINDRANATH APR RAVINDRANATH