Road to Prosperity - UP offers investment opportunities in Transport Sector.
That's the caption to the half page ad by the Transport Commissioner, UP, in today's leading newspapers (page 15, TOI).
Salient points (as appearing in the ad), and my comments are as below:
a) Government has decided to allow private sector to operate passenger buses (stage carriages) on all routes, including notified/ nationalised routes.
b) Selection through a competitive bidding process to operate on area/ route permit basis.
Com: The idea of competitive bid is obviously to maximise revenue for the government. Now, this is a key infrastructure sector, which has been badly neglected all these years due to bad government policies. As such, rather than just attempting to maximise revenues, the government should evolve a process which will facilitate the entry of professional organised sector players, even if it amounts to foregoing a bit of the revenue in the process, initially. The indirect benefits to the state's economy, by the opening up, will eventually prove far more beneficial than the revenue foregone.
And, rather than allocating routes, it will be better to identify some 3 players initially, and allow them freedom to select/ fix routes, schedules, type (luxury/ ordinary, etc), as well as fares.
After allowing for some three months from the date of operationalisation (for stabilisation), additional players may be brought in, however keeping the overall capacity at not more than 25% of the total estimated demand.
c) Operator should be willing to service every revenue village in his operational area.
Com: If the roads are maintained properly, and if there are no restrictions on the fare leviable, this will be automatic. And, if an operator charges high initially, others will soon come along, and level things out.
d) Company/ Consortium should bring in a fleet of 4,000 or more buses.
Com: If as suggested earlier, some three players are identified initially, this should be OK. This provision appears to have been introduced essentuially to eliminate the BLUELINE kind of operators. But, this seems to be going to the other extreme. A figure of 1,000 is more realistic.
e) Buses, particularly on trunk routes, required to have all kinds of gadgetry, in addition to safety and disabled-friendly aspects.
Com: While safety and disabled-friendly aspects need to be insisted on, the other aspects can be left to the operators to choose whether to provide or not.
f) Operators should have mixed fleet - luxury, ordinary, large/ small, etc based on route requirements and passenger demand.
Com: Again best left to the operators to decide, based (as stated) on route requirements and passenger demand.
g) Buses should not be more than one year old at the time of grant of permits, and maximum age thereafter - 10 years for trunk route operation; 12 for feeder route operation.
Com: very much desirable
h) Expression of interest accompanying bank draft of Rs 15,000/- invited.
Com: Should be OK. But, as I have already stated, revenue maximisation should not be the only criterion.
Beyond the above, I will be in a position to comment only as and when addition info is available. Unfortunately, the government/ department web-site is not exactly very informative.
However, another important aspect that has necessarily to be looked into is the need for 'all bus stands to be taken over and run (or better still - leased out to professional contractors) by local bodies, like City Corporations, Municipalities, etc, making the facilities available to all service providers against user charges.
More on these, and other aspects are outlined at
What is Karnataka waiting for???