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ZipGo, the newbie out to disrupt BMTC's bus services monopoly?

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Public Transport

Driving along the Indiranagar-Koramangala IRR yesterday, I was intrigued by the sight of ads, all along the road, offering "AC bus services for your daily commute", showing a picture of what are generally termed as "maxi-cabs" (see picture), by a so far unheard of "ZipGo". Checking on the net (here), I now see ZipGo as yet another "services aggregator" (quite like Uber, Ola, etc), but now for the maxi-cab operations.

The maxi-cab services, operating as a parallel bus service, though licensed as "contract carriages" (which allows only operations like taking a pack of school children out on a picnic, or members of a family for a wedding, etc - check here  for details), is an open secret in the city. And, though illegal, they fill a huge demand gap that the BMTC just can't meet.

As such, I have been demanding that the Contract Carriage Act, and such restrictive laws, be amended, so that professional players can come into the picture and provide better and safer services, in order to attract car and two-wheeler users to switch-over to the use of these services, with the ultimate objective of de-cluttering our roads. The new Transport and Road Safety Bill, that's in the consideration of the Parliament (check here), facilitates this, though, even if passed, it's the states that have to implement it.

Presently, these maxi-cab services are being operated by what I term the "riff-raff" lot, who, starting off illegally, go through their lives as the victims of the greed of the Transport Dept, RTO, Traffic Police and such officialdom, and in turn, perpetuate their own illegalities, making for an overall mafia-raaj, controlling the sector, with politicos obviously at the head of it all.

In such a scenario, rather than wait for the Act to be passed (and the states implementing the provisions under it, which is going to take ages), what ZipGo has done is to take the plunge (hoping to benefit from the first mover advantage), into an area that provides a huge business opportunity for the future. In strict legal terms, it's a circumvention of the law, making the commuters "members" of their set up. And, of course, it's going to be challenged by the state, prodded by the BMTC unionists and the associated mafia confederation, quite like they did (it's an ongoing battle) in the case of Ola/ Uber, backed by the auto-rickshaw mafioso. But, obviously, the ZipGo types have their strengths, and are not going to be giving in easily, as neither have Ola and Uber.

As for the citizens (commuters in particular), this should be seen as a most welcome development, in that they can dispense with the use of their cars/ two-wheelers, for the daily commute at least, reducing commute costs, and eliminating driving/ riding stress, therewith, apart from benefiting the city too by causing to reduce road clutter. Besides, with the maxi-cab operations shifting to the organised sector, one can hope for greater accountability from the operating staff (rarely do you see auto-rickshaw's and taxi's with number plates in "Kannada only" these days, as different from earlier); and there could be more too.

But, all in all, this caters mostly to the khaas aadmi needs. For total inclusion, it has still got to be regular bus services run by professional players (with BMTC continuing to operate, if it chooses to), all overseen by a properly constituted and empowered regulatory authority, as detailed here.

Muralidhar Rao

Comments

pathykv's picture

ZipGo

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A welcome service, to be encouraged, at least as a stop-gap.

K.V.Pathy

vatsan007's picture

Similar less known services in some segments

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It will not be very different from travel companies which offer maxi-cabs to various offices, except for the fact that Zipgo like Uber/Ola will not own any vehicles and be aggregators. I see the reliability aspect missing (drivers not picking calls, operators denying at the nth moment, ...)  and until and unless trust/reliability is established, none of the above services will work long-term.

However, I see maxi-cabs of lesser known private operators work on select busy segments like -- ORR, Yeshwantpur<->Peenya, etc, during peak hours. They operate illegally and pay haftas to continue their operations. These if regularised can augment the existing transport service.

 

- Srivatsan

xs400's picture

Crowdsourced Public Transport Info App

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Finally, some Indians with brains!

 

http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/how-two-close-pals-mapped-indian-public-transport-info-via-an-app-115090200936_1.html

 

Mehul Sutariya and Vaibhav Vasa were active public transport travellers since the age of 16. They knew some of the challenges Indian commuters regularly experience — lack of information about schedules, changes, no information on time of arrival, no way to find the best route, no way to compare  modes of transport for a given transit.

“When we went to the US, we continued using public transport systems. Almost always it was a well-planned commute, whereby the wait time at a station was pretty low. Comparing what we experienced in India and the US, there was a huge gap. Which also meant there was immense room for improvement,” recalls co-founder Vasa.

Friends for about 15 years now, they left their jobs in America in 2013 and decided on TransitPedia, for the impact it could have on the current state of public transport in the country, as well as on the lives of millions of daily commuters.

While Sutariya went to the US to do an MS in computer science from Georgia Institute of Technology and later worked at Amazon for four years as a software engineer, Vasa did an MS in operations research from Case Western, Ohio, and later worked with Avery Dennison, a Fortune 500 company, as a demand planning manager for five years.

“There is lack of technological intervention and smart thinking in the daily life of a commuter. Which, when catered to, can lead to a well-organised public transportation ecosystem in India,” Sutariya says.

TransitPedia’s focus is on a daily commuter’s needs — providing accurate information about schedules, alerts on service changes, on cancellations and, eventually, providing real-time information about the arrival of their bus/train/metro.

“We are currently present in Mumbai, Pune and New Delhi, and plan to go live in Hyderabad and Bengaluru next week, followed by Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Bhopal, Indore, Surat, Rajkot and Bhubaneswar in due course,” Sutariya says.  

Initially bootstrapped, TransitPedia is in discussions with a few investors to raise funds. The idea is to use the money primarily to reach scale quickly and add more features to solve much-bigger commuter pain-points, he says.

TransitPedia has a few monetisation options in mind, which it will explore after it attains a critical mass. Currently, it is focusing on user adoption and will go after monetisation next year, according to him.

TAKING A RIDE

  • TransitPedia is trying to unify public transport data across all cities in India
     
  • Plans to go live in Hyderabad and Bengaluru next week
     
  • Initially bootstrapped, TransitPedia is looking to raise funds and is in active discussion with a few investors
murali772's picture

needs a diffrent form of brain power

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@XS400 - The "Yelli Iddira?" service in BMTC was started as far as back in 2006. If the BMTC mafia had not dumped it (check here), it could easily have evolved to the very best form of tracking service, compared to any across the world even.

A mafia confederation continues to rule the BMTC even today. So, the challenge before TransitPedia or any such enterprise is going to be how to crack the mafia-raaj. Perhaps they could pick on the brains of Ashwin Rao (LokAyukta 'Honourable' Justice Bhaskar Rao's son) after he's released from jail.

Muralidhar Rao
xs400's picture

TransitPedia - not crowdsourced

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@Muralidhar Rao

Sorry, In my excitement, I swallowed the hype and connected the "pedia" part from Wikipedia  - nothing new about TransitPedia as you said above. I was hoping for a crowd-sourced app like Google does for traffic. Imagine, no need to rely on the mafia, your average bus commuter without realizing it helps her/his fellow commuters simply by carrying a smartphone in her/his pocket! We'll have to wait for Google for such innovations (if ever).

murali772's picture

Exciting developments

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Following are the excerpts from an article in the Citzens Matters on the subject (in italics; emphasis added by me - for the full text, click here), and my responses, para-wise:

And in a span of one month, apart from the expansion of services by ZipGo, cab service provider Ola too has announced of launching shuttle services in the city - - - “We have planned to launch 500 shuttles in over 100 routes in Bengaluru and Gurgaon from September 21st. Shuttle is a solution for daily commute from the Ola app. Shuttle experience would include free Wi-Fi, on demand entertainment and cashless transactions.

Excellent development.

- - - BMTC Staff and Workers’ Federation Convener A N Murthy. He accuses shuttle service providers of violating MVA and plying maxi cabs and buses without obtaining stage carriage permit. “Just like the existing private operators, even the app-based operators ply their vehicles with contract carriage permit. They will have to obtain stage carriage permit for their maxicab services, which they never do. Right from the elected representatives to the officials and police, all turn a blind eye despite being aware of the illegality involved,” he criticises.

However, most vehicle operators find it easy to operate under contract carriage permit than stage carriage, mainly because it difficult to obtain stage carriage permission. Procedures laid down in the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) make it is difficult for the applicant to get stage carriage permit sanctioned from the State / Regional Transport Authority. - - - In addition, the MVA also emphasises on giving preference to applications for permits from State transport undertakings over private undertakings.


Between Mr Murthy, the RTA and other ofiicialdom involved, and the politicos at the top, they have ensured that it is not only difficult, but just impossible to get a stage carriage license.

State Transport Commissioner Rame Gowda too agreed that there was confusion about the role of operator and aggregator. He says the Road Transport and Safety Bill 2014, once becomes a law, will clear the confusion. The draft has included the term “aggregators” and will bring IT-enabled transport system under legal framework.

This, as also removal of artificial classifications such as Contract, Carriage services etc (creations of the license-permit raaj, and ills associated with it) are envisaged in the bill, and hence the need to speed up its passage (those in agreement, may want to sign this petition).

- - - However, he said that operators should obtain route permission to ply on specific routes as per stage carriage norms, failing which they could be penalised.

Mr Rame Gowda perhaps sees this as the last opportunity to exercise his clout, for obvious reasons.

- - - One of the latest initiatives is installing GPS in all 6,500 BMTC buses. By this month end, all the buses will be equipped with GPS and control room will be able to track the problems real time,” she said, adding that electronic ticketing machines too will be introduced in BMTC buses from this month.

BMTC provided a "Yelli Iddira?" service, at the cost to it of a few lakhs, almost a decade back. Perhaps seeing no potential for "exploiting" it, they dumped it unceremoniously, even with it having operated successfully for well over six months (check here). Thereafter, Mysore KSRTC supposedly spent something like Rs 15 cr, a few years back, to put together its 'ITS system'. It hasn't been talked about as a model to follow, even by BMTC. BMTC then went about tying up with some Trimax, over a Rs 69 cr deal, which was supposed to be launched Independence day last year. Now, after the next Independence day, and over a month, the talk of the launch has been revived, at an additional 'marginal' Rs 10 cr (check here). Readers may draw their own conclusions.

As for myself, I am praying to Lord Ganesha (on this auspicious day) to strengthen the likes of ZipGo, Ola, as also Mr Nitin Gadkari's resolve to push for early passage of the Transport Bill '14, through Parliament.

Muralidhar Rao
pathykv's picture

BMTC

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Encouraging development.

K.V.Pathy

murali772's picture

the mafia hold

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Online cab aggregator Ola’s plan to start a bus service in Bengaluru called Ola Shuttle has taken a hit with Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy stating that no permission has been sought for it.

- - - “However, we cannot grant them permission inside Bengaluru city limits, as Bengaluru Metro Transport Corporation is already operational here,” he said. If such operations are launched in Bengaluru city without permission, appropriate action will be taken, he added.


For the full text of the report in the New Indian Express, click here.

Now, the Citizen Matters report, cited in my post of the 17th (scroll above), had, inter alia, stated as follows:

All the comfort apart, are the shuttle service introduced by ZipGo and to be introduced Ola service violating Motor Vehicles Act norms? Yes, says BMTC Staff and Workers’ Federation Convener A N Murthy. He accuses shuttle service providers of violating MVA and plying maxi cabs and buses without obtaining stage carriage permit. “Just like the existing private operators, even the app-based operators ply their vehicles with contract carriage permit. They will have to obtain stage carriage permit for their maxicab services, which they never do. Right from the elected representatives to the officials and police, all turn a blind eye despite being aware of the illegality involved,” he criticises.

The maxicab services, provided by private operators, have been in the picture from long, though operating very much in violation of the Contract Carriage Act. All the same, quite like Mr Murthy has stated, "right from the elected representatives to the officials and police, have all been turning a blind eye" to it. But, now when ZipGo and Ola come forward to professionalise, regularise, and bring in accountability to the services, the minister has a problem.

Isn't the reason very obvious? It was not as if a blind eye was being turned to the maxicab operations. It is plainly a mafia operation, of which they are all a part, in the process, short-changing the public, depriving the state of revenue, and also, being a total menace on the roads.

The need for reforms cannot get more imperative. Besides, public interest is supreme, and not BMTC's (check here)

Muralidhar Rao
ramesh_mbabu's picture

Zipgo suspends shuttle bus services for want of permit

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http://www.thehindu.com/n.... I don't know the nuances of legalities. Would the contract services run by BMTC for the benefit of private companies pass the legal scrutiny as they have a Stage Carrier Permit and in effect what they do is Contract Carriage. Ramesh.

vatsan007's picture

Brute force by the Govt

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This is bruteforce by Govt in not allowing these citing age-old laws. Time for a PIL.

- Srivatsan

murali772's picture

Yes, PIL may become necessary

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@Srivatsan -  meanwhile, let's work to get more endorsements to this on-line petition.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

key take-aways from car-free day trial-runs across the country

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1) From Cyberabad (for the full text of the report in the Indian Express, click here):
On Monday, the IT department and transport commissioner of Telangana will unveil alternative transport arrangements for Thursdays, which includes special buses, “she shuttles” for women and carpooling. Besides declogging the main roads in the area, HYSEA hopes to reduce pollution also.

2) From Gurgaon (for the full text of the report in the ToI, click here):
On Tuesday, Gurgaon put the brakes on cars, and accelerated into the future. It was the first instalment of the Car Free Day that the city will now observe every Tuesday starting next month.

- - - Shuttl, a private bus service, revealed a ridership of 3,198 on all car-free routes, which was one and a half times more than their daily average. In Cyber City, a fair number of office goers followed the advice of their companies. One building had 222 less cars parked, another had 115 fewer. And there was 'zero' parking in the area, one which sees 1,500 cars parked daily.

- - - Gurgaon lacks a public transport system worth its name. Garima, a resident of Sector 15 who commutes regularly from the city to Sohna, spoke for all when she said, "Car Free Day is a great initiative. However, I feel that the city needs a robust public transport system - especially buses - to make it a reality."


3) From Namma Bengaluru (for the full text of the report in the ToI, click here):
Buoyed by the success of the vehicle-free day at HSR Layout recently, the Karnataka government plans to make it a regular feature to promote walking, cycling and public transport not just in Bengaluru, but also in tier 2 cities.

Bengaluru district minister B Ramalinga Reddy said the government plans to hold the next vehicle-free day at Koramangala and BTM Layout followed by one in Mysuru. "We haven't decide whether to have it first at Koramangala or BTM Layout. We're working on the logistics to make it a success. Later, we plan to take it to tier 2 cities."

- - "Both the state and Centre are investing heavily on public transport, mainly Metro and BMTC. But people continue to disregard such services. It's high time they use them as it's good for health too", says V Manjula, commissioner, Directorate of urban land transport.


From all of the above, what shows out clearly is the need for efficient, and varied forms of public bus transport services. Now, the important question that arises then is why should it remain the monopoly domain of government service providers, when, over the years, they have shown themselves to be incapable of meeting the demand.

Shuttl, a private bus service, has already proved its mettle in Gurgaon. ZipGo and Ola can do even better in Bengaluru, making everyday a "reduced car usage day", and if facilitated further, totally car-free days too. But then why is the government not allowing them to operate, even as the neta's and babu's preach lofty ideals?

Perhaps, it's time people raised their demand, loud and clear, for an end to the government monopoly in these services, which is what this blog, and this petition are all about. The passing of the Transport Bill 2014 (refer the petition) will do away wth artificial classifications like "contract/ stage carriage, etc", and will pave the way for reputed private players to come into the picture. But, even today, under the existing laws too, the state government can facilitate their operations, if they choose to. We now need to give them no other choice.

PS: The emphasis to excerpts from the press reports have been provided by me.

Muralidhar Rao
ramesh_mbabu's picture

See how Singapore goverment promotes similar on demand bus

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service. https://govinsider.asia/smart-gov/exclusive-singapores-radical-new-transport-plan/ . Here in Namma Bengaluru where the goverment of the day promises to make it a Singapore every other day killed the innovative service. Legalities apart it was serving the public, the laws and regulation should evolve with changing times and technologies. Ramesh.
murali772's picture

Sorry plight of Bengaluru's women commuters

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The gang rape of the BPO employee has once again raised the issue of women's safety in the city. Lack of a good public transport system leaves many employees working late in IT City, helpless on the roads.

- - - It's a case of Nirbhaya again in Bengaluru, and no lessons have been learnt. Lack of public transport after 10pm gives rise to a parallel system of maxi cabs and private vans.

- - - "Generally after 9pm, bus schedules are reduced because BMTC primarily looks at revenue generation and not the social cause of a public transport system. Autorickshaws, too, are not safe for commuting at night, which is why maxi cabs take the chance and operate through the night. Many maxi cabs which complete their duties for one or more companies, operate during the lean hours and pick up commuters from bus stops and roadsides. This has become the normal night transport service in the city, in the absence of BMTC services," says MN Sreehari, transport infrastructure and mobility expert.

Maxi cabs that pick up or drop off employees after 10 or 11pm are not tracked by companies that hire them, or the vehicle owners.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the ToI, click here.

Once again, the incapacity of BMTC to meet the burgeoning demand for public bus transport services has come to the fore, in a most unsavoury way. But, the warning signals were available from as far back as on 16th Dec, 2012 (Nirbhaya day), and even before, and many solutions were offered by various experts - some by Prajagalu too (check here). But, all to no avail, leading to a repeat of the Nirbhaya incident, and most shamefully, in the so-called tech capital of the country, and on the eve of the visit by Madame Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, the manufacturing tech centre of the world.

Now, the much reviled maxi-cabs have been operating in the city, meeting the demand unmet by BMTC, but without any checks whatsoever, from long. And, quite as Mr A N Murthy, BMTC Staff and Workers’ Federation Convener, has stated, all of this has been going on even as "elected representatives to officials and police, have all been turning a blind eye despite being aware of the illegality involved" (check my post of 21st Sept, scrolling above). In such a scenario, when ZipGo, Ola, Uber etc come forward to bring accountability to these operations, it's most unfortunate that the neta-babu combo, however, choose to put all kinds of hurdles before them.

As such, it's they and they alone that are responsible for the sorry plight of the women commuters of Bengaluru. It's time they all woke up and made a collective demand for an end to the BMTC monopoly, and immediate facilitation of bus/ maxi-cab/ taxi operations by reputed private players, all under the watchful eyes of a well constitued regulator. This blog, and this petition, are all about that. Do endorse the same, if in agreement.
 

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

BMTC as the dog in the manger

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Commuters, largely office-goers, are left with no choice but to depend on existing illegal parallel transport system which includes private mini vans and maxi cabs. Sadly, this throbbing illegal business of private vans, maxi cabs, tempo travellers has been in existence from many years right under the transport authorities' nose even as the BMTC has done very little to provide any solution.

However, BMTC officials don’t agree. They cite various technical and practical constraints including funds crunch, logistics and human resources. Also pointed out is the lack of adequate demand for operating regular night bus services.

For the full text of the report in the Deccan Herald, click here.

Another similar story, again from Deccan Herald (for the full text, click here)

BMTC bus frequency takes a nosedive post 10 pm. But this is precisely the time when the City’s late working populace needs public transport the most. Desperate to reach home, they settle for expensive auto and taxi rides. Can they rely on these alternatives for long?

It is not the workers alone. Bengaluru’s huge floating population lands up at the City’s transport hubs at odd hours. Don’t they need reliable commute modes 24/7? The City’s nightlife did get extended till 1 am. But how do people get back after that? No, the BMTC buses aren’t there. Neither is the Metro ready.


Neither does the BMTC have the capacity to fulfill the demand, nor will it allow others who can.

Meanwhile, the Transport department, various arms of the police, etc, go about their enforcement drives, as per the following excerpts from the same DH report:

Transport Commissioner Ramegowda has this to say on the issue: “Everyday, during our enforcement drives, we have been - on an average - booking about 50 such private vans, maxi cabs that are either running without permits or are violating permit norms. However, despite our best efforts, these clandestine operations are being run as there exists a nexus between those who take these vehicles on lease, the owners and even the vehicle financiers. To make easy money, they run hundreds of trips everyday, working as stage carriages.”

What the Transport Commissioner has omitted, when he lists those included in the "nexus", is his own lot, apart from the other government agencies involved. And, that's precisely why the so-called 'enforcement drives' can never ever be effective. In fact, one should think the "Contract Carriage Act" has been conceived by some 'brilliant' babu in the past, with this particular intent in mind. More and more its repeal has become imperative.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

hyenas in the manger

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On a day another rape was reported in Bengaluru, officials of the Transport Department advised commuters to avoid boarding private buses and maxi-cabs at night.

- - - Rame Gowda, Transport Commissioner, said, “We are keeping constant vigil on private vehicles. People should avoid using private maxi-cabs and private buses, in the interest of their own safety. We are also keeping a tab on vehicles without valid permits picking up passengers.”

A RTO official said Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy had called a meeting and discussed ways and means to make commuting safer.


For the full text of the report in the New Indian Express, click here.

Yet another rape, and the response of the neta-babu lot is like that of a stuck tape recorder. The maxi-cab services are meeting the hugely growing demand that the BMTC is not in a position to do, and as such, the simple answer to the present problem would be to figure out a mechanism to make the services accountable. And, that's exactly what ZipGo, Ola, Uber, etc have offered to do.

Unfortunately, however, all that the neta-babu lot seem interested is in putting every kind of obstacle in the way of all of them, supposedly with a view to protecting BMTC's revenue earnings. The question that arises is, is that objective greater, or the convenience and safety of the commuting public, more particularly the women. In actuality, besides, the objective is not quite that - it's plainly the protection and furtherance of the vested interests of the entire mafia confederation in charge, of which the neta-babu combo are a part.

I had termed them "dogs in the manger", earlier (read my post of the 28th Oct, scrolling above). They actually are "hyenas in the manger". Their intolerance is the need of the hour.

Muralidhar Rao
ramesh_mbabu's picture

Did Zip Go restart services in Bengaluru?

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I don't see them on Inner Ring Road where the brand was higly visible in the morning & evening peak hours. A look at their app still shows this route and many others especially on ORR. Did they learn how to deal with babus in Karnataka Government? What happened to the regulator's mumbles now?

srinidhi's picture

they are doing trips..

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My colleagues at work are usit zip-go frequently now..makes lot of money sense for them now when they do long trips!

About how they are running it, I have no clue!

murali772's picture

time to declare intolerance to the ways of Transport ministry

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Did they learn how to deal with babus in Karnataka Government? What happened to the regulator's mumbles now?

That's indeed what it is all about. All they (of course, the neta's included) want is their pound of flesh, rather tonnes, and then any kind of operations can carry on, even as they continue with the charade of "intensive checks", etc, more so when there's an attack on a woman. Very plainly, it's their insatiable greed that's responsible for the way things are.

It's time the people, particularly women, declared intolerance to the ways of the Transport Department, in fact, the entire Transport ministry.
 

Muralidhar Rao
ramesh_mbabu's picture

Arey they running the services without the logo/branding?

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@srinidhi - Is that why it is not noticeable on IRR?

srinidhi's picture

app has details..

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suggest to install  their app to get more info on the routes!

ramesh_mbabu's picture

I see many routes on the app

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but unable to correlate it on ground, they were very much visible on IRR prior to the departmental action. I can't use it to figure it out as my area is not served by them yet :(. Probably running in stealth mode post greasing the palms of Transport department officials.

murali772's picture

talk of "reining in" is where the problem begins

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The transport department has submitted a draft notification on rules to rein in online taxi aggregators that charge fares arbitrarily. Once the draft notification is approved, online taxi aggregators will not be allowed to impose travel charges as per their whims and fancies, but instead will have to follow a standardised rate chart.

The new rules will closely monitor the fare pricing policy and also lay down guidelines like taxi permits, driver verifications and consumer grievance redressal system. “We have submitted the draft notification to the state government, and it has invited objections, if any, from the operators. After looking into the objections, the rules will be implemented and it will take a month’s time,” said Transport Commissioner Rame Gowda.


For the full text of the report in the New Indian Express (emphasis added in the above excerpts is by me), click here.

The whole approach of the Transport Department of "reining in" is, in the first place, where the problem lies. They should look at themselves as "facilitators" of the much needed public transport services (in its various forms), and thereafter as "regulators", and rarely (only where essential) as "controllers" (for rening in) - then, everything will fall in place.

The taxi aggregators are well-funded professional companies, and they know very well that unless they are competent and competitive, they will not survive. As such, excessive control over their fare policies etc, are quite uncalled for, particularly when these services are targeted largely at the khaas aadmi.

There's a lot that the department needs to do about the services meant for the aam aadmi, viz the bus services, and that's where they need to concentrate their attention. But, of course, however much they do, as long as they remain the monopoly domains of government operators, there are serious limitations. The only answer to that is in opening up the services for effective competition from private players - check here for more on that.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

the obvious way out of the present mobility imbroglio

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Private bus aggregation startup Shuttl is learnt to have closed a fresh $25-million, or Rs 160 crore, funding round as they look to replicate the success of taxi aggregators like Ola and Uber. - - - - Around 16 ventures have come up in the bus aggregation space over the past few months catering largely to office goers in cities like Bangalore, Delhi NCR and Mumbai.

Seeing a massive business potential, risk investors have been very closely watching the bus aggregation service. In India, about 70 lakh people commute daily using public vehicles and the industry is estimated to be about Rs 60,000 crore, of which online aggregation is at a minuscule size. According to startup data collector Traxcn, the sector has received a total funding of $3.75 million with ventures like Cityflo, Zipgo and Limo, formerly rBus, raising angel rounds. In fact, the country's largest cab haling app Ola, which also runs its shuttle service, is planning to invest about Rs 150-200 crore in this space and has already launched in Gurgaon.


Shuttl at present is registering 10,000-15,000 bookings per day with more than 450 buses on its platform. The ticket size ranges from Rs 20-70 for the Gurgaon-based online bus aggregator. With fresh funds, it plans to enter major metro cities like Mumbai and Bangalore while it would also venture out into select non-metro cities.

- - - Experts say it would be interesting to see how these companies compete with state sector-run bus services, which are priced far lower, besides facing regulatory issues, especially in cities like Bangalore. Some investors are of the view that the bus aggregation space is huge and with Uber not having done this globally, an Indian player has the chance of owning this market fully.


For the full text of the report in the ToI, click here.

Well, their services are very badly needed across the country, and they seem to be in here for the long haul too. It would be best if the state transport ministry lot see the writing on the wall, and make way for them. And, it's time the citizens, on their part, started raising the demand for the same.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Classical license-permit raaj in Bengaluru, while Delhi moves on

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The transport department on Tuesday seized four ZipGo vehicles for allegedly plying without relevant permits or licence.This is the second time its vehicles are being seized in the city. In September, at least 12 were seized in Electronics City and released only after the owners paid a court fine.

ZipGo is a bus aggregator providing point-to-point pickup and drop services.

Transport commissioner Ramegowda said: “After seizing their vehicles in September, we had warned them against continuing services without relevant permits. Today , we found four of their vehicles plying without permission in Electronics City .“

ZipGo vehicles only have a contract carriage. To provide services like they do at present, they require a stage carriage. However, considering that ZipGo is working in competition with BMTC, it is unlikely they will get a stage carriage permit,“ he said.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the ToI, click here.

That they (and, in fact, most private city operators, as well as intra-city operators) are licensed as "Contract Carriages", while operating as "stage carriages", is no longer a secret. In fact, the Transport Dept officials know very well, at the time of licensing itself, that they are going to be flouting these rules, and operating as stage carriages. They like it that way, since the operators then remain under their thumbs, and can be milked as and when they choose to. This is what can be termed as classical "license-permit raaj" - all at heavy cost to the travelling public.

Even as that's the case, in Namma Bengaluru, the following excerpts, from a New Indian Express report (emphasis added by me - for the full text, click here), show how the Delhi government is beginning to change its outlook, supported by the Central government, though both had so long been daggers drawn at each other.

Meanwhile, the Delhi government decided to press into service 4,000 additional buses from January 1 to 15 as part of its efforts to strengthen public transport. It has tied up with the Delhi Contract Bus Association, an apex body of contract carriage and tourist bus operators in Delhi.

The Delhi government needs to do more, very simply by opening up of the regular bus services too to Ola, Uber, ZipGo, and such professional players, yes of course, properly regulated by a duly constituted and empowered regulatory body. 

Muralidhar Rao
abidpqa's picture

Fully booked service is fine.

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Fully booked service is fine. Otehrwise, they have been violating the spirit of public transport. Eg. They can overspeed -- to be on schedule, etc.

murali772's picture

AAP ka majoritarianism

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Transport Minister Gopal Rai accused several schools of betraying the government at the last moment despite making a commitment to provide their buses to the Delhi Transport Corporation during the odd-even scheme trial in the Capital.

- - - “Several schools betrayed us. Despite repeated requests, they did not provide us with buses... I wonder how committed they are to their ideals of teaching ethics to children and building their characters. A total of 1,799 buses from 408 schools had registered with us, but only 366 buses from 125 schools joined us,” Mr. Rai said at a press conference here.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in The Hindu, click here.

When the Delhi government announced that "Meanwhile, the Delhi government decided to press into service 4,000 additional buses from January 1 to 15 as part of its efforts to strengthen public transport - it has tied up with the Delhi Contract Bus Association, an apex body of contract carriage and tourist bus operators in Delhi", check my post of 10th Dec (scrolling above), I was quite skeptical as to how successful the arrangement was going to work out. The skepticism was borne out of the fact the co-ordinating agency was going to be the DTC, which didn't quite enjoy much of a reputation for professionalism, to say the least. Accordingly, I had suggested that "The Delhi government needs to do more, very simply by opening up of the regular bus services too to Ola, Uber, ZipGo, and such professional players, yes of course, properly regulated by a duly constituted and empowered regulatory body", whereby I meant that the school buses too be covered under the scheme, and all of it on a regular basis, and not just for the 15-day period, so that they could earn an income too out of their otherwise under-utilised assets.

However, Delhi government's approach, on the other hand, appears to be that, when a government that has been elected with such a massive majority tells you something, you better accept it for what it is, or you'll be labelled a "betrayer". Now, isn't that as much of a majoritarianism as depicted by certain sections of the Modi sarkar through their hard Hindutva pursuits?

All in all, both the governments perhaps need to re-learn what governance is all about. 

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

end to monopoly?

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Bus aggregator ZipGo has launched shuttle services to the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) at a rate of Rs149 from 14 points in the city .

The app-based shuttle service launched operations on New Year's Eve, although BMTC raised objections to it. The corporation claims the facility is parallel to its airport-bound Vayu Vajra service, which is costlier.

ZipGo's AC mini-bus service is available from 6am to 9pm in the following areas: Banashankari, Bannerghatta Road, BTM Layout, Electronics City, HSR Layout, Indiranagar, JP Nagar, Jalahalli, Jayanagar, Koramangala, Marathahalli, Sarjapura Road, Vijaynagar and Whitefield.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added is mine) in the ToI, click here.

Well, as recently as on Dec 17th, the following was the Transport Commissioner's stand - The routes in the city limits have been nationalised and only BMTC can operate. It is like (sic) monopoly.'' He made it clear that that the drive against ZipGo will be revived if they were to restart operations in the city as ''rules prohibit they cannot operate as stage carriage vehicles like BMTC buses'', going by the Bangalore Mirror report accessible here. The report besides stated - ZipGo Technologies Pvt ltd, the bus shuttle service, not only was successful in launching its operations in Gurgaon with a women-exclusive transportation service on Tuesday but also got police brass flagging off the buses.

So, is one to believe that the Gurgaon government's action shamed 'Namma Governmentu' lot into reversing their earlier approach of nit-picking on the fine-print of the law to finding ways to thwart the operations? Shame and government johnnies - can there be a connection at all?!!! Or, is it that seeing the tide clearly turning against them, they finally compromised on their 'pound of flesh'? Either way, to ensure permanency, perhaps time the citizens joined in the demand for passing of the Transportation Bill, which provides for it, overall - check here.

Now, while Namma Governmentu's posturings can perhaps be explained thus, what possibly is the explanation for the Dilli (AAP) sarkar quietly making a U-turn on their earlier stance of a clear "no" to Uber/ Ola cab operations? And, now that they have relaxed on it, are they going to be allowing ZipGo too, who are best equipped for deployment of the thousands of private and school buses (as compared to DTC) for the everyday aam aadmi commute?

Also, now that ZipGo has been allowed into providing airport connectivity, shouldn't every Koramangala, Whitefield, Electronic city etc, and more importantly Namma Metro, too be having shuttle services (provided by the likes of ZipGo) feeding the Big-10 services (where BMTC can concentrate its efforts)?

These are plainly to the route to incentivising people to take to public transport, and thereby reduce the clutter on the roads.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

surge/ peak pricing by cab aggregators

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Cab aggregators are making a killing when demand is high, charging almost eight times the normal fare. A passenger used social media to vent about his experience of being charged 7.7 times the usual fare. His post, on Facebook, has gone viral.

In situations like this, a customer booking a cab through a mobile app pays Rs 770 for a fare of Rs 100.

Party-goers on December 31 had no choice but to accept a high surcharge. But cab aggregators are demanding higher fares even on regular days, especially near IT hubs.

The Centre has directed state transport authorities to issue guidelines to cab aggregators, but nothing has moved for Karnataka. In November, the Central Transport Department spoke about taming dynamic pricing, but left it to each state to prepare regulations to suit regional requirements.

“Online taxi services should adhere to the state government’s City Taxi Service Scheme of 1998, and follow the same pricing norms as others. The Transport Department has the powers to seize vehicles violating rules, but we have not seized any aggregator cabs yet,” said a transport official.

On its official blog, aggregator Ola states, “Peak pricing is triggered when there is too much demand and not enough cabs to service the additional demand. This is usually during peak travel hours; during office hours like 9 am or 6 pm, special events such as a strike or periods of extreme weather.”

Ola says the fare reflects the demand, the category and the location, and the customer is free to choose or reject the surcharge.


For the full text of the report in the New Indian Express, click here.

All this while, the government johnnies had been terming the operations illegal. From that, the talk has now moved on to regulating them. Well, that certainly is an improvement, considering the fact that they had become highly popular.

Now, all said and done, these services are largely meant for the "khaas aadmi", as much as airlines services are, and as such, imposing restrictions on them becomes a questionable exercise. There are times when they offer all kinds of concessions, essentially to snatch away custom from competing players/ modes, when the pricing can be even lower than their operational costs. As such, if the regulators heed to a demand to cap the upper limit, tomorrow the auto-rickshaw lobby may demand fixing a lower limit too. Considering all of these aspects, it would be best for the regulations to be focussed on safety aspects, rather than on pricing. Either way, in exceptioal circumstnces, like at the time of the recent floods in Chennai, the service providers themselves chose not to expolit the situation, if I understand correctly.

The best way to keep the prices in check would be to simultaneously provide for excellent bus services, whereby one one needs to avail a cab service only in exceptional cases. And, the ZipGo's, Ola's and Uber's are raring to get into the field too, and if provided the right kind of facilitation, they will cater to the needs of the aam aadmi too, far better than the government monopoly operators. And, thereby the significance of these two petitions - this an this.

As for auto-rickshaws, my considered opinion is that this 19th century contraption is phased out eventually, for reasons stated here.

Muralidhar Rao
xs400's picture

Character change going from government to private

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Clear case of gouging "legally" by a private enterprise. Dishonest person in a government job will use "illegal" methods to make money; the same person moves into the private arena and pockets money under the Capitalist license to increase profit, which is deemed "OK" by the self certified system. Private or public enterprise is not the issue here.

murali772's picture

could do without negativity, please!

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@xs400 - Your posts all along have been more or less in the same vein. If you have no positive suggestions to make, perhaps this is not quite the platform for you.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Now Uber too gains GoK's acceptance

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US-based ride hailing service, Uber, plans to invest Rs 99 crore in Karnataka, seeking concessions from the state government under the Information Technology Act. While the government has cleared the project, it has asked Uber to comply with state rules, including the soon-to-be-announced app-based taxi aggregator law.

Uber’s investment in the state will be directed towards expansion of its service and setting up of its first development center in the country at Bengaluru. It has sought concessions in the form of "on-demand taxi aggregator regulations", "ridesharing pilot and regulations" and "concessions on water and electricity".

- - - “..the transport department is in the process of framing City Taxi Scheme 2015 under the section 39 of the MV Act 1988 for the aggregators in the state" said Dr. Ramegowda, commissioner of the state transport department. - - - Karnataka will become the first state to regulate app-based taxi aggregators in India with a set of rules that will be announced sometime next week.

- - - Uber proposes to grow its base of driver partners from 15,000 to 1,00,000 in the state, and also increase its full-time employee strength to 200 people from 15 currently, who will develop local features and services for its platform in the country.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added is by me) in the ToI, click here.

So, finally, the Transport department has come round to looking into the fine-print to figure out ways to accommodate the aggregators, as compared to their earlier approach of figuring out ways to block them. Apparently, the grip of the mafia confederation that has been ruling the roost all this while, has got loosened.

Now, however, Uber, ZipGo, Ola, etc cater largely to the "khaas aadmi". If the "aam aadmi" too is to benefit, what is required of the government is to take the next big step of the opening up of the regular bus services too, to reputed private players (check here for more on that), perhaps simultaneous with the revamping of the entire regulatory set up under a duly empowered UMTA (Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority). That'll be the ultimate test for the government.

Muralidhar Rao
Naveen's picture

Euphoria for what?

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Uber is investing 99 crs for software development & govt is adding rules to MV act for taxi aggregators since it does not exist presently. And transport dept did not try to block uber or other taxi services. Private taxi services have always been operating in all cities, nothing new about uber- they are another taxi co. Xs400- you are spot on, Private or public enterprise is not the issue here. Only some try to make it seem like the only issue with their mumbo-jumbo claims that the moment things are in private hands, everything will work out great like some voodoo or black magic.
pathykv's picture

Character

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What is to be done to improve character of all?

K.V.Pathy

Naveen's picture

Good question

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Good question Mr Pathy. I don't think there is any quick-fix solution to blatant diregard for rule of law by Indians in India (though elsewhere, the same Indians follow every rule most obediently). Our excessively liberal form of democracy has made it a complete failure in regards to instilling fear of laws & rules. Politicians & political parties are equally at fault if not even more so whilst industrialits & businessmen keep manipulating or disregarding rules in their quest for profits.

The ills plaguing proper urban transport planning & misuse of permits stem because of the same reasons. Any rule gets circumvented & so, rules always tend never to be liberal. The misuse of permits & bribery continues & is almost impossible to erradicate.

The only hope is that as we progress & get people out from poverty, such misuse will keep reducing but its a long way to go.

murali772's picture

blinkered view and world-view

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And transport dept did not try to block uber or other taxi services.

As against that, following are the extracts from an Indian Express report cited by me on 21/09/15 (may be accessed srolling above):

"Online cab aggregator Ola’s plan to start a bus service in Bengaluru called Ola Shuttle has taken a hit with Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy stating that no permission has been sought for it. - - - “However, we cannot grant them permission inside Bengaluru city limits, as Bengaluru Metro Transport Corporation is already operational here,” he said. If such operations are launched in Bengaluru city without permission, appropriate action will be taken, he added."

nothing new about uber- they are another taxi co.

The world-view is obviously different, as can be guaged from the interview of Mr Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO, by Shekhar Gupta, accessible here.

Xs400- you are spot on

He has been saying there's no hope, either way. If that's being "spot on", why bother to blog even? May be look for a Shangrila, and emigrate there.

blatant diregard for rule of law by Indians in India - - - Any rule gets circumvented & so, rules always tend never to be liberal. The misuse of permits & bribery continues & is almost impossible to erradicate.

Every economist worth his name has been critcising the licence-permit raaj, that has been prevailing all this while, creating all kinds of artificialities - like, in the case of public bus transport services, the huge shortage of supply, even as there's a burgeoning demand. The governments have been reluctant to effect the correctives because of vested interests of the powers that be. However, finally, they are beginning to realise that they can't carry on fooling all the people all the time, and beginning to look at re-writing the laws to accommodate the Uber's, Ola's and ZipGo's. The world at large is welcoming that, and also beginning to ask for more.

Muralidhar Rao
Naveen's picture

FORG IN THE WELL VIEW

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Minister making statements does not mean Uber or any taxi company cannot operate their taxis. What is permitted by law cannot be challenged just as what is not permitted cannot be allowed to go on.

Likewise, if laws are inappropriate they need to be changed but unfortunately in this country, they cannot be made as wished for by people driving cars & wishing for rules that seem appropriate to them through their wind screens or by those attending TV debates. Politicians have their vote base elsewhere & rules get framed based on where they get dragged by their vote banks, not by what economists & TV anchors that never vote wish for.

There are limits for running buses within the limited road networks in our cities. Increasing inefficient buses in mixed traffic (whether public or private) is not going to solve urban transport demands. What is needed are rail systems. So all the meaningless talk about private buses rescuing the city's transport is just the same old BS.

And whether to blog or not is up to xs400, not for anyone else to decide.

murali772's picture

whatever, risk investors see a huge potential

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Politicians have their vote base elsewhere & rules get framed based on where they get dragged by their vote banks, not by what economists & TV anchors that never vote wish for.

Yes, perhaps there's truth in that. But, when it's obviously not the right solution, isn't it incumbent on the people to demand change?

And, as for the rest, I'll reproduce the following excerpts from a ToI report I had cited in my post of 7th Dec,'15 (scroll above to read), which are self-explanatory:

Private bus aggregation startup Shuttl is learnt to have closed a fresh $25-million, or Rs 160 crore, funding round as they look to replicate the success of taxi aggregators like Ola and Uber. - - - - Around 16 ventures have come up in the bus aggregation space over the past few months catering largely to office goers in cities like Bangalore, Delhi NCR and Mumbai.

Seeing a massive business potential, risk investors have been very closely watching the bus aggregation service. In India, about 70 lakh people commute daily using public vehicles and the industry is estimated to be about Rs 60,000 crore, of which online aggregation is at a minuscule size. According to startup data collector Traxcn, the sector has received a total funding of $3.75 million with ventures like Cityflo, Zipgo and Limo, formerly rBus, raising angel rounds. In fact, the country's largest cab haling app Ola, which also runs its shuttle service, is planning to invest about Rs 150-200 crore in this space and has already launched in Gurgaon.

Shuttl at present is registering 10,000-15,000 bookings per day with more than 450 buses on its platform. The ticket size ranges from Rs 20-70 for the Gurgaon-based online bus aggregator. With fresh funds, it plans to enter major metro cities like Mumbai and Bangalore while it would also venture out into select non-metro cities.

Yes, ZipGo as envisaged now, is essentially targeting the "khaas aadmi". But, even that can contribute to de-congesting the roads in a big way. For instance, if allowed to operate without the unnecessary hindrances, it could very well lead to over 50% of the 250 odd cars, in the complex where I reside, remaining in the basement during the work day. Replicated across the city, that can make for a huge difference.

And, if allowed to provide regular services, they can cater to the needs of the "aam aadmi" too, either way far better than what BMTC/ KSRTC are doing currently, and perhaps at cheaper fares too.

The monopoly situation protects and perpetuates a whole lot of vested interests of the neta-babu combo through all kinds of articialities, and that's also why they are tenaciously holding onto it, for all they are worth. Once a decision is taken to dismantle it, everything will fall in place, including the necessary tweaking of the regulatory mechanism, and you'll have much better services, quite like in airlines, telecom, banking, insurance, etc, which too were as bad before they were opened out.

Besides, in this context, following two quotes come to mind too:

1) By Dr A S Joglekar (who used to blog extensively on Praja, once) made in Jan, '09:

In 04-05, I worked at the North end of London. A 15 mile journey from home by tube took 2 hours, buses even longer - so, I used neither. I used my car daily, covering the distance in 90 minutes on an average, one way.

In contrast today, I was at a conference at Oxford Circus - similar distance - 90 minutes by tube, would have been less by car. But, I did not use the latter because of £8/- congestion charges, and £10/- parking charges for whole day.


2) Author unknown - Father waits for 1 hr to save Rs 10/-; son spends Rs 10/- to save 1 hr.

Muralidhar Rao
Naveen's picture

Frog in well view again

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But, when it's obviously not the right solution, isn't it incumbent on the people to demand change?

A right solution is one that sustainably addresses the requirements of the majority, not just the needs for minority executives that can afford to use apps to make bookings & pay premium fares for daily commutes. Many such execs will soon give up & get back to their cars after the initial euphoria about using shared taxis or buses wears off & they discover that benefits of cost & time savings, if any are not all that worth though there may be some groups for whom it might work, but it isn't going to be any "path-breaking" solution for the city as a whole that makes it incumbent for people to demand.

Unless attempts are made to remove the masses from roads & put them on rail tracks (i.e. metro & commuter trains), the roads will continue to remain clogged even with Zipgo or Uber or whatever else. Such services might well end up adding more chaos on the roads with their speeding since there will be no other way to reduce commute time. Even with a network of good train services, roads will continue to be busy but at least the masses would have multiple low-cost options with subsidized passes.

The monopoly situation protects and perpetuates a whole lot of vested interests of the neta-babu combo through all kinds of articialities, and that's also why they are tenaciously holding onto it, for all they are worth. Once a decision is taken to dismantle it, everything will fall in place, including the necessary tweaking of the regulatory mechanism, and you'll have much better services, quite like in airlines, telecom, banking, insurance, etc, which too were as bad before they were opened out.

As if the new private services do not have any pecuniary interests of their own. Once in the field, what is to prevent them from engaging in bribery with the same neta-babu combo that you keep quoting? What is to prevent them from arm-twisting traffic cops & harrasing commuters as they feel like similar to the private bus lobby in Mangalore? Fyi KSRTC has started city services in Mangalore, bowing to public demand. Even the clout that the private bus lobby had on the RTOs /DC could not continue denying licenses to KSRTC due to public pressure.

"everything will fall in place" does not work for city transport services with multiple operators like some vodoo or black magic. For the umpteenth time, it isn't the same as airlines, telecom, banking, insurance, etc.

murali772's picture

Transport ministry continues in "we obstacle" mode

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Despite the Prime Minister putting a great deal of energy into promoting a startup campaign with the tagline ‘we unobstacle’, the winds of change do not seem to have circulated down to India’s startup capital.

In yet another instance of rapidly-evolving technologies being obstructed by stagnant laws, ZipGo, a Bengaluru-based startup that provides minibus and van hailing services, has been forced to suspend operations in the city. Transport Department officials raided ZipGo’s offices and seized vehicles in an effort to get the company to desist what they see as a violation of the State government’s monopoly over bus transport.

- - - “Private motor vehicles, that is, cars and motorcycles, are the real threat to government-run public transport, not privately run public transport. Whether it be the humble share-autos or nifty tech-enabled transit services, these private enterprises reduce congestion and improve mobility,” says Shreya Gadepalli, Regional Director of the Institute for Transport and Development Policy.

- - - While stage carriage is an exclusive monopoly of the BMTC, contract carriage is open to private players. Sharma is hopeful that, as in the case of the taxi companies, dialogue will resolve the impasse. “If they are a contract carrier their vehicles should go from point A to Z. Instead, they stop at B, C, D and E along the way thanks to bookings from the app. This means they are a stage carrier,” said Narendra Holkar, Joint Commissioner for Transport of Bengaluru Urban and Rural.


The Road Transport and Safety Bill, a draft law that cuts through the confusion by doing away with the distinction between stage and contract carriage has been awaiting parliamentary approval since 2014.

ZipGo also operates in New Delhi, where regulators have been much more accommodating due to the pressures placed on the transport system. “The Delhi government is more progressive on this, because it has been dealing with the issue [of traffic and air pollution] for the last 20 years,” says Sharma. “Delhi has more vehicles than Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata combined. But the rate of growth of vehicle population is the same in Bengaluru as in Delhi today. And it is one-third the size of Delhi.”

Holkar, however dismisses the potential benefits of the service with respect to reducing congestion and pollution, insisting that it is illegal and cannot be allowed to operate. If the aim is to protect the BMTC’s bottomline, shutting down one startup is unlikely to improve the balance sheets of a corporation that hasn’t seen profits in five years.

And these losses are perfectly acceptable according to Gadepalli. “Public transportation is not a business. It’s a service to improve urban mobility, while consuming very little road space, fuel and money per person,” she said, adding that public and private transport operators can co-exist as long as adequate safety regulations are put in place. “It is ironic that public agencies, rather that curbing the use of cars and motorcycles, use arcane regulations to put the brakes on private sector initiatives to improve public transport.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the Hindu Businessline, click here.

For all the Invest Karnataka and such jamboree's, the government, more specifically the Transport ministry, remains stuck in its "we obstacle" mode.

Further, Mumbai's BEST (in bus services), as also the commuter trains, are both supposedly efficient. But, both are making huge losses. So much so, they are hard put to carry on even their day to day operations, leave alone expansion to meet the hugely growing demand, or upgradation of their service levels. That's where the need for profits come in, since, if you are forever looking for subsidy support, there are far more deserving demands from sectors like healthcare, primary education, etc, and you can't claim precedence over them. So, statements like "losses are acceptable in public transport" only tend to promote mediocrity and eventual decay. Subsidy support may be required in very select cases, but it should be limited to just them. BMTC, in Bengaluru, is operating Volvo bus services for the "khaas aadmi", and incurring losses there too.

Muralidhar Rao
tvidya's picture

Private operators of busses

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Let me tell u my transport problem and then I suggest how private transporters can help.

In orer to take an volvo bus to say to Bannargatta Road  from Majestic I take a regular bus to Majestic and then take a volvo bus to Bannargatta Road .

If private operators run volvo buses with good connectvity, on trial basis, most may avoid taking out thier cars

Example : If I get a volvo bus to majestic and then volvo buses  to say a) one day to Vijaya Nagar b) another day to Jayanagar 5th block c) Yet another day to Old Airport road, I may as well forget my car, I am sure many more will follow me.

Why not V purse this model for private operators so that it can bridge the gap in transportation instead fo trying to private operation as a whole. Private operators may expand thier operation slowly and may make BMTC redundant after a decade or so allowing its natural death instead of killing it now getting public symathy. 

Pl do respond sir

T.Vidyadhar

murali772's picture

many things possible - we need to raise the demand

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Namaskaara Vidyadhar sahibarae - Suggest you go through this post, as also the entire blog.

http://praja.in/en/blog/silkboard/2009/09/11/bmtc-and-possible-open-market-proposals-or-experiments#comment-17260

It provides all the possible answers. Now, in addition, you have the ZipGo too. All that's required of the government is to facilitate them, instead of trying to protect BMTC's revenue interests, particularly so, when it works against public interest. Actually, however, protection of BMTC's interest is only a cover for protection and perpetuation of various vested interests.

It's time the people said enough is enough.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

obviously, status quo suits Bengaluru neta's

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When Delhi, Gurgaon, Jaipur and other cities have embraced Shuttl, ZipGo and the like, and profited from their helping to reduce road clutter, it's a crying shame the the powers that be in Bengaluru (where most of these were conceived, to begin with) are doing everything possible to kill them.

Well, obviously, the status quo serves their vested interests.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Time people demanded an accountable Transport Ministry

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A day after cab aggregators Uber and Ola launched on-demand bike rideshare services in Bengaluru, the transport department described them as illegal. It asked citizens not to use the the services.

For the full text of the report in the ToI, click here.

When the government-owned BMTC cannot meet the ever-growing demand for public transport services, one would think an elected government would welcome and facilitate every entrepreneur coming forward to meet them in every conceivable way, particularly when they are from the organised sector, where overall accountability is a given. But, namma governmentu chooses to remain in the "we obstruct" mode to them, even as they play footsie with any number of unorganised sector players, plying all kinds of contraptions, putting the lives of the users to grave risk.

It's high time the people arose with one voice and demanded a more accountable transport ministry.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

enforcement of safety processes impossible with govt operators

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Despite their potential to reduce commute time and cost, bike-taxi aggregators are facing a massive crackdown. Nipped in the bud is the collective enthusiasm of a bunch of startups to decongest the roads.

Two-wheelers account for a whopping 40 lakh out of Bengaluru’s estimated 58 lakh vehicles. So, doesn’t it make eminent sense to run some of them as bike taxis, a cheaper and quicker commute mode to beat the city’s notorious traffic mess? But, driven by a permit system perfected ages ago, the Transport department says No!”

- - - So, what exactly is the department’s problem? Transport commissioner Ramegowda articulates it in the straightjacket of rules and regulations. “Currently, there are no bike-taxi rules. Any taxi should have a yellow board, permit and driver should carry a badge. Otherwise, how can they operate?”

Taking the safety route, he wonders how the motorcycle rider could be trusted if the passenger is a woman. “If there are incidents of rape and kidnapping, who should be held responsible?” But both Ola and Uber insist their riders’ antecedents are verified and every ride is tracked through GPS devices.


The entire approach, as urban commute analyst Muralidhar Rao points out, is just to obstruct. “Crimes or accidents can be readily traced, acting as deterrence to misbehaviour. But why should government block an effort to boost public transport?”

BMTC services, says Rao, are woefully inadequate to meet the city’s mounting public transport demands. Inevitably, this has sparked a huge explosion in private car and motorcycle numbers, triggering massive congestion on the road. If taxi cabs and bike-taxis could divert the private, personal traffic, why raise objections?

Ramegowda does not totally shut the doors on bike-taxis. He insists that the concept is nothing new and have been in existence in other states, most notably in Goa. But there is a procedure: Operators should apply to the Regional Transport Authority (RTA), who will then consider them based on the requirement.

That could take months. New rules to regulate the cab taxi operators have been talked about for a year. But why make the mobility players wait when the response for app-based taxis, structured car-pooling and other innovations has been overwhelming?


Sensing the huge potential in Bengaluru, bike-taxi aggregators had started queuing up for permits months ago. - - - Smaller aggregators in a league far below the two biggies have already been in the bike-taxi field in Bengaluru. They did not show up in the RTA radar since their fleets were just not big enough. Some of them are still active despite the recent crackdown.

Taking the bike-taxi concept to the realm of ride-sharing, startups are also now emerging with an offer to monetise a ride. If a motorcyclist is riding alone, why leave the pillion seat empty? This could take the whole debate to an entirely new level. But for now, the bike-taxi aggregators have no choice but to wait till the department issues fresh guidelines, stick that label of legality and lift the ban.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the Deccan Herald, click here.

Essentially, what one can make out is that government mafia confederation lot just want to keep things vague, so that they can go on extracting money under the table, more so from the unorganised sector players. Meanwhile, the rapidly increasing loss of man-hours due to traffic grid-locks are making corporate honchos to have serious re-thinks on further investments in the city, and some even having thoughts of shifting out of the city. One wonders if it's part of a government strategy to de-congest the city.

As for safety issues, one would like to hear Mr Rame Gowda's comments on the following extracts from a ToI article (for the full text, click here).

At a time the state is discussing the pros and cons of its proposed regulations for private cab aggregators, a CAG report has pulled up state-run taxis. Tabled on March 5, 2016, the report says the KSTDC service to the Kempegowda International Airport is not complying with safety parameters, putting commuters at risk.

- - - The safety lapses vary from lack of GPS installation (61 errant vehicles were found) to non-maintenance of driver details. As far as police verification of drivers is concerned, CAG found 149 cases of violations. - - -  Test checks of vehicles revealed that nearly 118 of the 223 active taxis had the mobile data terminal (MDT) switched off, once again compromising passenger safety.

According to the report, customers also complained about rash driving, impersonation and misbehaviour by drivers. When it comes to metre calibration, it found 109 cases of non-compliance.


Safety became an issue only after private players came into the picture, because with them, compliance can be enforced. In the case of government operators, enforcement is near impossible, and hence nobody wants to even talk about it.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

urgent need for a duly empowered BMLTA

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"To teach a lesson to cab aggregators Ola and Uber for operating bike taxis without permits", transport department officials are now upto sting operations to trap them, going by the ToI report (emphasis added by me) accessible here.

The report further adds as below:

The final notification on the rules for aggregators will be out soon. But we don't know whether the state transport authority (STA) has included autorickshaws and bikes under the ambit of the new law. The aggregators argued that they started bike taxis only to ease congestion and address people's transportation needs. Even food delivery on bikes is illegal because every two-wheeler is a private vehicle and vehicles with white board registrations cannot be used for commercial purposes under the MV Act, Maruti Sambrani, joint commissioner, transport department.

The talk of "notification of rules for aggregators" has been going on from over a year. The "state transport authority (STA)" currently is the state "Transport Department", which neither has the capacity, nor the intent to come up with a proper framework that meets the demands of the day. All it seems to be interested in is furthering the vested interests of the powers that be.

The following excerpts from a Bangalore Mirror report (for the full text, click here), citing Dr Ashwin Mahesh, urbanist and social technologist, is of relevance here.

Transport for London, for example, is responsible for all of that city's rail networks (including the underground and surface rails), buses and taxis, trams, cycling infrastructure, the major roads, and even river transport on the Thames. Likewise, in many other large cities around the world, it is this integrated responsibility that makes a total solution possible.

Drawing on the global experience, the government of Karnataka in 2006 created the Bangalore Metropolitan Land Transport Authority (BMLTA). Its list of responsibilities read much like the one that guides Transport for London, except that the latter is a powerful and functional organisation with a key role in the planned development of London, whereas BMLTA is denuded and dormant, and has become irrelevant to the city.

BMLTA should be made the functional organisation responsible for running both BMTC and the metro services, as well as the planned development of pedestrian and cycling facilities, and the major road network for the entire region. It should be accountable for providing specified levels of services in each neighbourhood, using a mix of options. It is then that we will begin to get the total solution that the city desperately needs.


Meanwhile, ZipGo has more or less decided to move out of Bengaluru, with the political leadership here doing everything to obstruct them, to cities (Delhi, Gurgaon, NOIDA, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkatta, Chennai) where the political leadership is welcoming of them, seeing value in their services. Ironically, it was seeing Bengaluru as holding the greatest potential, as also the impression they had that the state government was largely progressive in its outlook, that ZipGo had chosen the city as their base. Some six months of everyday battle with the department, and they have decided they have had enough (for more on that, click here) - so much for the stae's much touted 'invest' Karnataka.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Transport dept planning to chase out Uber and Ola, too?

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The new guidelines for taxi-hailing aggregators say under no circumstances can they charge more than the maximum prescribed fare.

The much-awaited Karnataka On-demand Transportation Technology aggregators Rules, 2016, came into effect on April 2. The norms cap surge pricing - charging of several times the regular fare during peak hours - and do away with base and ride-time fares. The guidelines were necessitated after aggregators Ola and Uber began operations.

HG Kumar, additional commissioner, State Transport Authority (STA), said: "According to the MV Act, rates are fixed by the government for all aggregators licensed to operate. As per the norms, the maximum per-km fare will be Rs 19.50 for AC cabs and Rs 14.50 for non-AC ones. Taxis will not be allowed to charge more during peak hours. But the operators can certainly lower tariff to gain a competitive edge."

STA is enforcing the new rules under Sub-section 1 of Section 212 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

- - - The norms make the companies more responsible towards passengers. They mandate that the aggregators check drivers' antecedents via police and not employ someone who has been convicted in the past seven years for driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol or under a CrPC section.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the ToI, click here.

Firstly, one can't figure out what's this State Transport Authority, or STA - if you google it, the listing shows Transport Dept at the top. There's supposed to be the BMLTA (Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Authority), which was to take the shape of the UMTA (Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority), based on Central govt guidelines - but, as of now, it's a toothless entity, even as many progressive cities have moved on it.

The so-called guidelines issued by this so-called STA clearly brings out its incapcity to look beyond just the narrow revenue interests of the state, and see them from a more holistic perspective, like one would expect an UMTA kind of set up will be able to, given the broader base it would be constituted of.

Now, if you go to a "MakeMyTrip.com" and check the air-fares say between Bengaluru and Mumbai, you'll find the fares ranging from a low of Rs 2,500/- to even Rs 20,000/-, depending on various factors. Is anyone complaining about it? Likewise, when I tried to book a bus ticket (A/c sitting) for my nephew, for travel from Salem to Bengaluru on a Sunday evening, I was shocked to find the fares in the range of Rs 2,500/- on the "RedBus" web-site. Very clearly, there was a big rush back to Bengaluru at the end of the week-end, and prices soared some four times from the normal Rs 600/- level. The lesson clearly was that you need to make advance plans, or be prepared to pay a high price. And, neither me, nor my nephew, are complaining.

Further, quite like I have stated already in my post of the 18th Jan (scroll above to read), the best way to keep the prices in check would be to provide for excellent bus services, whereby one one needs to avail a cab service only in exceptional cases. Unfortuanately, given our Transport Dept's blikered approach, "ZipGo", which was working towards that, has chosen to wind up its operations in the city and move to Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Pune, Delhi, Kolkatta, and other cities that were welcoming of them (read my post of 4th April, scrolling above). And, given the kind of stifling conditions being imposed on them too, one needn't be surprised if even Uber and Ola too choose to give up on Bengaluru.

And, as for safety guidelines, the Transport Dept's posturings ring hollow, when they are unable to get the government-owned operators to comply with even the basics, going by the report cited in my post of 13th March (scroll above, to read). The aggregators have their reputation at stake (as also market valuations), and they have by and large set-up sufficiently robust measures, with or without the Transport Dept's guidelines.

All in all, the Trasport ministry needs to make up its mind whether it's there to serve public interest, or carry on like the mafia confederation it is largely seen to be.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

why not go by plain logic too?

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The transport deparment has finally decided to clear the confusion over bike taxis. Due to mounting pressure from the public and operators, it has decided to frame rules to legalize the service.

- - - According to a source in transport department, the government is planning to ban ferrying of food or goods in bulk as the practice can be dangerous.

For the full text (emphasis added by me) of the report in the ToI, click here.

So, the Transport Dept can respond to public pressure too!!! One wonders, why they can't, in the first place, go by simple logic.

And, as for ferrying bulk goods, it's  been going on right under their nose all along, as seen in the picture below.

But, it's only when the FlipCart/ Zomato/ Swiggy delivery boys cart their wares in neatly designed bags, taking care of most safety issues, that the Transport dept johnnies have a problem. The reasons are not too far to seek, right!

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Bengaluru's loss and Mumbai's gain

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Just spoke to a friend in Mumbai, who lives in Khandivli, with the work place being in the BKC (Bandra-Kurla complex), a distance of 21 km.

He had largely been driving to work (and back), with the prospect of riding the crowded trains not quite appealing to him. From a few months back, he started engaging "Uber", quite often, costing him an average Rs 350/- each way. Last week, when he tried Uber, and was quoted a 5X "surge" charge, he decided it was time to check out "CityFlo", about which a friend had told him.

This morning he took his first ride by CityFlo, which, apart from a/c and 'reserved seat' comforts, came to him free as an introductory offer. The regular charge is going to be Rs 85/- each way. He simultaneously found out that ZipGo is also in operation on the same circuit, at a slightly lesser Rs 79/- per ride, and now plans to make them his regular commute modes, saving him around 13k per month, apart from the hassle of driving.

He has of course to walk close to 1 km at either ends (to/ from the pick-up/ drop-off points), which, given the fairly good pedestrian facilities in Mumbai, would have been quite a breeze, but for the present oppressive Mumbai weather. But, he says that gives him his exercise, because of which he now plans to cancell his gym membership, saving another 3 K per month. The bus operator has indicated that, once the operations pick up, they will be introducing pick-up/ drop-off points closer to home/ work-place. He's confident the demand will pick up, and this will happen pretty soon.

Now, look at the irony of it all - this was the scheme that ZipGo had introduced in Namma Bengaluru, for the first time in the country, way back in September last year, with their market study indicating that it had the greatest potential here. But, with our Transport ministry mafia confederation obstructing them every which way possible, they decided to wind up and move over to other welcoming cities, including Mumbai. Like I had stated elsewhere, if they were in full operation here, I can readily envisage over half the 250 odd cars in my apartment complex, including my wife's and my daughter-in-law's, remaing in the basement on any working day, achieving more or less the same result as Delhi's odd-even did, when replicated across the city.

Well, isn't it time the citizens came together to damand of the Transport ministry to change its present ways?

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Phadnavis-ji competing with Siddu-ji in obstructing business?

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Acting on a complaint by the BEST Undertaking, officials of the Regional Transport Office at Tardeo have begun a crackdown against app-based bus aggregators.

The officials on Tuesday and Wednesday seized five air-conditioned mini buses — two at Chembur and three at Bandra-Kurla Complex — for picking up passengers from multiple locations which breaches the condition of contract carriage permit.

The buses were ferrying passengers who had booked a ride on the app of bus aggregator, Cityflo.

- - - Bus operators, however, said that BEST should not object to their services as the undertaking does not operate AC buses. “If the service of app-based aggregators is illegal, why does the RTO not take action against online booking sites?” said a bus operator.

According to RTO officials, the app-based bus services have gained popularity as they are air-conditioned, offer competitive rates and better facilities and services compared to others.

“Bus aggregators charge Rs90 as fare for a single journey from Borivli to BKC, which is quite a competitive rate,” said an RTO official.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in The Hindustan Times, click here.

Even as the RTO officials talk of all the positives of the app-based services, they want to curb them just because of complaints by the BEST mafioso. What kind of a logic is that?

Simultaneously, the following are the extracts from a ToI report about BEST operations (for the full text, click here):

The BEST undertaking is burdened with an old fleet of buses, with the average age of vehicles being 9.5. No wonder then commuters often complain about the rattling red buses with leaking roofs.

In 2012-13, the BEST boasted of a much younger fleet—over 1,000 buses were three to six years old and most of the remaining others were seven years old. But today, over 56% of the 3,963-strong fleet is over eight years old. According to the latest BEST statistics, 298 buses are 12-13 years old, 214 are 13-14 years old and 122 are nearly 15 years old.


And, the following are the extracts from another ToI report (for the full text, click here):

A BEST official said, "We are incurring transport losses to the tune of Rs 900 crore annually and many passengers have migrated to share autos and taxis in the past two years.

The same report cited Union finance minister Arun Jaitley (in his budget speech) saying "Entrepreneurs will be able to operate buses on various routes, subject to certain efficiency and safety norms. The major benefits of this game-changing initiative will be provision of more efficient public transport facilities, greater public convenience and new investment in this moribund sector. - - - The entry of private entrepreneurs into the transport sector will not only benefit commuters, but also have a major impact on state agencies, including the BEST undertaking and Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC)".

The report also points to the reason, as "Protests by unions in the public transport undertakings and autorickshaw and taxi unions are likely. Union leader Shashank Rao said, "We will oppose any plan to introduce private players in the transport sector, which will affect BEST." He had recently called for an auto strike to demand a ban on private taxi aggregators, like Uber and Ola".

Like I had stated elsewhere, their protests are like those of SBI staff when computer was introduced first, and those of STD booth operators when mobile phone usage spread. Now, all of CityFlo, ZipGo, Uber, Ola etc need lots of drivers and staff at various levels, and it's time they moved over to them, where they can be expected to be employed at higher wage levels, but, of course, will lose out on the 'perks' of the government job (check here, for more on that).

But, the more important question is, is Phadnavis-ji going to be taking up the cue given by Jaitley-ji, or going to be competing with Siddaramaiah-avaru in 'obstructing' an excellent business proposition that has all the poistives listed by his own RTO officials, minus the negatives of car-pooling? 
 

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Karnataka govt set to drive out Uber, Ola too

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After Delhi, Bengaluru is cracking the whip on taxi aggregators. In 48 hours, the Karnataka State Transport Authority (STA) seized 381 cabs operating for Ola and Uber.

It's not just complaints against surge pricing which have triggered the crackdown. What's irked the transport department more is that the companies are not following the new norms while applying for licences.

The Karnataka On-demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules, 2016 (effective from April 2) make it mandatory for the aggregators to seek licences to operate. They are required to furnish a list of vehicles operating under the company's banner and ensure that GPS devices and panic buttons are fitted in all.


For the full text (emphasis added by me) of the report in the ToI, click here.

The whole approach of the so-called STA appears to be find ways to obstruct their functioning, rather than from any other consideration. ZipGo, whose operations had all the positives of car pooling, minus its negatives, ultimately chose to wind up and move out, rather than kow-tow to the irrational demands of the STA. Perhaps, the STA is targeting the same with Uber and Ola.

"Invest Karnataka" slogan of this government rings plainly hollow.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

remnants of the 3% crony capitalism

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Even as ZipGo was driven out of the city by the obstructionist ways of namma Transport ministry lot, just a few minutes back, I received a mail from Ola (attached with the above picture) announcing the commencement of their Shuttle services, quite on the same lines as ZipGo.

So, what is one to make out - that ZipGo didn't know how to strike a "deal" with the ministry lot - what else can it be?

Either way, since it's a service that combines all the positives of Odd-Even and car-pooling, minus all their negatives, it cannot but be welcomed by citizens.

The Economist's index of crony capitalism states that "Crony wealth in India has come down sharply from 18 per cent of GDP in 2008 to just 3 per cent of GDP today" (check the NDTV report here). Apparently, Karnataka accounts for a major share of the remaining 3%, and this deal is evidence of that.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Delhi has formalised; what's Bengaluru waiting for?

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The Delhi government has notified the app-based premium bus services about registrations starting from June 1 which will enable people to book their seats in buses through their smartphone on the lines of app-based taxis services in the national capital.

Only air-conditioned buses will ply under the scheme according to which one bus aggregator will have to run at lease 50 vehicles to get a licence from Delhi Government's Transport department.

- - - While announcing the scheme last month, Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai had said that bus aggregators will have an individual app like Ola, Uber and they will be allowed to decide their fares, but if need arises government will prescribe upper limit of fares or take steps to check predatory pricing.

Welcoming the government's move to introduce app-based premium bus Services, Ola said that it looks forward to working with the government in extending a world class daily commute solution from Ola Shuttle, to citizens across the state.

- - - Government has made compulsory installation of two CCTV cameras, Wi-Fi and GPS in each bus to be plied under new service. In view of women safety, bus aggregators will have to ensure panic button in their apps.


For the full text of the report in NDTV.com, click here.

Well, finally at least the AAP govt has woken up to the reality, and in the process opened up bus services (beyond the earlier point-to-point) to private players, even if only to the khaas aadmi, to begin with. As I have repeatedly pointed out earlier too, this service has all the positives of odd-even, as well as the car-pooling schemes, and makes for a huge difference to commuter mobility in the cities.

The comparison with DTS services will soon become inevitable, and unless they buck up, it'll not be too far off before the aam janata too start demanding opening up of the regular services too. All in all, an excellent augury.

Well, actually, both Bengaluru (Karnataka) and Mumbai (Maharashtra) governments had quite beaten Delhi to the game. But, both appear to have done it surreptitiously. May be now that Delhi has set a precedent, they too can come out of the closets.

Unfortunately for ZipGo, the first mover in the game in Bengaluru, they couldn't afford the wait (or the 'game'), and chose to move out to where they felt more welcome (check my post of 4th April, scrolling above). Very much Bengaluru's loss too, since they had made tremendous advances in the field, and, had they been facilitated, the services would have got established by now, benefitting the city and citizens, that much more. Whatever, better late than never.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

regulate surge pricing, instead of banning

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Another significant development, going by the NDTV.com report cited in the above post, is seen in the following excerpts:

While announcing the scheme last month, Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai had said that bus aggregators will have an individual app like Ola, Uber and they will be allowed to decide their fares, but if need arises government will prescribe upper limit of fares or take steps to check predatory pricing.

Welcoming the government's move to introduce app-based premium bus Services, Ola said that it looks forward to working with the government in extending a world class daily commute solution from Ola Shuttle, to citizens across the state.


This is a major improvement from the earlier antagonistic approach of the government towards the same Ola and Uber on their "surge pricing" in cab services. To that extent, the AAP government needs to be given due credit, as compared to the Karnataka government which just resorts to a cat & mouse game (see my post of 4th April, scrolling above).

Now, when the surge pricing was upto 2X, there was very little resistance from the consumers; when it went up to 2.5X, there were murmurs, and quite often a switch to other modes. It was only when it started going to 3X levels and beyond, that the consumers started complaining, and the government came up with its knee-jerk reaction of the total ban (on surge pricing - check my post of 18th Jan, scrolling above). The inevitable fall-out was the total disarray of an otherwise excellently conceived and executed service, which was benefitting the consumers, the drivers, the operators, and even the government (through increased service tax earnings). Actually, all that the government needed to do was to prescribe an upper limit, of say 2X or 2.5X, as it is now talking about in the case of the bus services. The fact of the matter, besides, is that, with a free-er regime, leading to further competition, the surge will by itself get regulated to reasonable levels, with the government rarely having to intervene.

While on the subject, it needs to be added that it's high time the government set up a properly constituted and empowered regulatory body, along the lines of UMTA (Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority), already envisaged in the ROAD TRANSPORT AND SAFETY BILL 2015 (more on that, may be accessed here), currently before the Parliament, instead of handling it all departmentally. It'll be good if the Delhi government can starightaway set an example for the rest of the country to follow.

In the midst of all of these, yes, the auto-rickshaw and kaali-peeli lot will be the losers. But, very clearly, their days are over (check here for more on that), and the government would do well to help them to upgrade themselves and join the cab/ bus aggragated operations.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Transport ministry shaming Karnataka

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Karnataka, which hosts India’s Silicon Valley, Bengaluru, has asked taxi aggregators Ola and Uber to halt operations immediately. Contrary to what many may think, it is not a knee-jerk move of the state government. Asking them to halt operations is the outcome of the implementation of the Karnataka On-demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules, 2016 which was notified by the Government of Karnataka on 2 April 2016. States have been given the power by the Union Government to frame their own rules for taxi aggregators and Karnataka was one of the earliest to do the same.

What that effectively means is that the states have a choice but the consumer has none. The states can allow taxi aggregators to operate to ease commuting in its cities or they can choose to frame regulations to outlaw these app-based aggregators and make the lives of thousands of commuters difficult.

The Karnataka Aggregators Rules, 2016 was introduced with a familiar form of reasoning- ‘levelling the playing field for regular taxi operators and cab aggregators.’ Ola and Uber have a superior quality of service than regular on-demand taxi operators. The Karnataka government, however, has now ensured that a level playing field among these two types of services is maintained by ensuring consumers have uniformly inferior quality of service.


When one reads the rules, it becomes clear why they haven’t been followed by Uber and Ola thus resulting in the state government asking them to cease operating.

For the full text (emphasis added by me) of the report in 'Swarajya', click here.

Very clearly, these rules perhaps suit horse-cart operations of the 19th century, and not the Uber/ Ola operations of today. And, a government that's trying to push them into conforming to these absurd rules, will end up pushing them out of the state itself, quite like it has already happened in the case of ZipGo.

And, it'll not be just them, it'll be every Tim Cook, Satya Nadella, and even an Azim Premji or a Kiran mazumdar Shaw, and into the waiting arms of Sri K T Rama Rao, just across the border. Compare his approach (here, seen in his address to Apple CEO Tim Cook) to that our Transport ministry lot to the most innovative/ transformative Uber/ Ola/ ZipGo lot. One would wonder if we are in this so-called IT capital of the country, or in some Timbaktu - even the BiMaRU states of yore are today far more investment-friendly.

It's a total shame.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

a great first step by Delhi govt

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In my post of 26th May (scroll above to read), I had quoted an NDTV.com report stating that the AAP sarkar in Delhi was opening up the "high-end bus services", even the ones licensed as "stage carriages", to private players.

Appended below is the formal announcement from the government.

The government needs to be complimented on taking this bold step, which perhaps is the first of its kind for the country, and could now become a trend-setter, considering the huge difference it's going to be making to mobility, for the khaas aadmi, to begin with, and which could very well be rolled out to the aam aadmi too, as it evolves.  

In my petition to the CM of Karnataka (accessible here), I had identified the high-end services; services to IT/ ITES industry, schools, etc; shuttle services, etc, that could be targeted for making over to the private sector, while retaining just the regular Big-10 services for BMTC. Well, it's a happy augury that at least the Delhi government has seen meaning in it all, and taken the vital first step.

The problem for BMTC now, for following the Delhi model, is going to be the question of return on the Rs 79 cr odd they have invested on the fancy ITS service (check here for more on that), which is mostly targeted at the khaas aadmi. Well, even the aam services have their use for ITS, even if limited, and as such, that need not be a constraint, considering the tremendous benefits that will accrue to the city and citizens by following the Delhi model.

Now, what has been envisaged looks perfectly suited to executive/ manager level lot (as also the IT/ ITES sector lot) for their daily commute to and from work. It doesn't quite suit the needs of other bus users. Perhaps, the government could look at the option suggested here (or, variations thereof, evolved out of a lot of debate on the blog itself). In such services, perhaps, a few standing passengers could also be accommodated, since the distances covered aren't too long.

Further, the government seems to have gone overboard with the security features stipulated. Ola/ Uber lot have over the years instilled a fair amount of confidence, even amongst women users, in their in-built systems. Perhaps, these too need some review.

Whatever, it's a great first step. And it's hoped, with the setting up of the UMTA (going by this report), these regulations will evolve, over time, to become the best of solutions for city mobility.

Muralidhar Rao
pathykv's picture

UMTA

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We perhaps need AAP Govt. in Karnataka to implement such schemes.

K.V.Pathy

murali772's picture

disruption needed to dislodge mafia confederations

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Reading my post of 7th June (scroll above), a friend (AAP member) called to say that the Delhi Lt Governor was disallowing the scheme. I told him that it could at best be a temporary hitch, which, considering its merits, the CM and the Lt Governonr should be able to sit across the table and sort out, whatever issues there are, in the overall interest of the public.

However, seeing the India Today TV discussion over the matter, last evening, it now appears that that is not quite happening. Apparently, the Lt Governor wants to be seen as more loyal to the Crown than the King himself; and the CM's belligerent attitude towards the Lt Governor, right from the word go, hasn't helped matters any.

The problem appears to be largely on the following two counts - my responses to the same are added alongside:

1) The government used an enabling provision in the relevant Act, to push through the scheme, though strictly speaking the same would apply only for emergency situations, and hence it amounts to a violation of the Act.

The government's argument here is that the serious pollution hazard faced by the city is enough of an emergent scenario to merit the application of the provision. Well, undoubtedly, the pollution scenario is quite serious, and all that it needed now was to quickly amend the Act to allow for the application of the provision in such situations too.  

2) There was no tender, and the scheme has been tailored to suit just one aggregator.

This appears meaningless to me. The very first provision in the scheme states that it is open to any company that mobilises 50 or more buses. And, in today's world, you'll have any number of companies coming on board to do that, and more, in no time at all. As such, how can it be termed as tailored to suit just one aggregator, and also, where's the need for any tender?

Essentially, the government has gone about implementing the scheme in a disruptive manner, not quite the way the bureaucracy is used to. And the Lt Governor is using the opportunity to curry favour with his Big Boss (unmindful of whether he wants it that way or not), even though, the junior boss (Arun Jaitley-ji) is supposed to have openly lauded the scheme, that too in the presence of other states' CM's, recommending to them in addition to follow suit too. Arun Jaitley-ji had in fact, in his budget speech itself, talked about how he was looking forward to the opening up of the sector to private players, with the passage of the Transport Bill (expected to be passed in the monsoon session), so that the quality of service improves (check my ost of 21st April, scrolling above).

Very correctly as Sri Manish Sisodia had pointed out, during the India Today show, transport portfolio across the country has been considred 'lucrative', being as they are in the grip of "mafia confederations", and perhaps it requires totally disruptive approaches to liberate them. The extent to which it is so, can be guaged from Karnataka Transport minister's move at this stage to re-nationalise even the currently open routes (check here, for more on that)

One would have hoped that the BJP would extend support to the overall cause, in keeping with Arun Jailey-ji's talk, rather than being obstructionist by resorting to nit-picking.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

remove the obstructions

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But surely the L-G realises that the law is meant to serve the needs of Delhi’s population and that the needs of the citizens are that more buses ply. Indeed, while the experience of telecom and airlines clearly demonstrates just how competition lowers tariffs and improves service quality, one of the issues flagged by the L-G is that DTC will be adversely affected since the aggregators can decide on which routes their premium buses will ply—since some will be ones on which DTC also plies, the argument is, this will hit its profitability.

For the full text (emphasis added by me) of the column by Sunil Jain in the Financial Express, click here.

Yes, quite as Sunil Jain has stated law should serve overall public interest, and if there's any aspect of it causing obstruction, the same needs to be corrected, rather than it being used to perpetuate the obstruction.

Also, public interest is supreme compared to DTC's profitability or even survival. If it can't face up to today's challenges, it can't be allowed hold public to ransom using its monopoly status.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

between the devil and the deep sea

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Ola becomes the first licensed cab aggregator in India. H G Kumar, state transport authority officer told TOI in an exclusive chat: "I have signed and approved the license for Ola on Monday. They are now legalized as cab aggregators in Karnataka. But they have furnished details of 100 vehicles only. They have to make several other arrangements as per the new regulations."

- - - Uber has knocked the High Court on several issues particularly against the cap on surge pricing.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the ToI, click here.

The license has come with a whole lot of unimplementable conditions, which have obviously been brought in so that the "inspector raaj" can continue, after having negotiated their respective ways through the "license-permit raaj". Ola with its big-buck backing could 'manage' it. But not ZipGo, who then chose to back out, and go to Mumbai and other places, where perhaps the 'terms' where much softer. On Uber, perhaps the demands are much higher, being a multi-national, and also its having received a large tranche of funds recently, being splashed in the papers.

These aggregators have been a big boon for the otherwise grid-locked citizens (thanks to BMTC's monopoly in public transport), and while one would have expected their facilitation by the government, what we are seeing are these shennanigans in pursuit of the various vested interests of the mafia confederation members involved.

What's required first and foremost is the institution of a duly empowered UMTA (Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority) as the regulator, in place of the Transport Department, alongwith total revamp of the related policies (perhaps involving reputed think-tanks, and institutions like CiSTUP, IIM, NLSUI, etc), in line with the new Transport Bill (awaiting parliamentray approval).

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

oh, for a citizen-friendly regulatory regime!

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In the circles that I move around, very few use the BMTC services. It's not on account of a class bias or anything like that largely, but plain inconvenience, in very many ways (some are listed here). Very few amongst the lot can actually be termed rich; most are middle-class, and given the choice, would very much welcome any opportunity to save whatever possible on travel costs. But, more importantly, they value their time, and can't afford to hang around bus stops not knowing when a bus would come - if it would come at all.

If the bus services were any better, which I maintain cannot happen as long as BMTC remains a monopoly (check here, for more on that), I expect many would readily take to them. I myself am not averse to bus travel - I expect these blogs (one & two) should testify to that claim.

This lot presently travels largely by personalised forms of transport - cars, and the less well-heeled, by two-wheelers; and, at odd times by the auto. The advent of the cab aggregators has come as a major boon for this lot, more particularly for women travelling alone. Many were even contemplating selling their personal cars.

Sadly for this lot, however, things have once again become diffiucult, thanks to the control -permit raaj imposed by the Transport Department, spposedly to 'protect' the interest of the users, but actually to further theirs' and their fellow travellers' vested interests.

A glimpse of their travails is seen in the following excerpts from a New Indian Express report (accessible here):

After spending two hours of countless frantic attempts at booking a cab through an app-based service to go for a meeting on Saturday morning, Shahana K, finally gave up. A resident of Shantinagar, Shahana had used three taxi providers’ services to get to MG Road and none worked.

One of the cab providers had even confirmed her ride, but later called to say the drive must be cancelled due to traffic. Shahana’s is not an isolated case. Ever since the Karnataka government imposed a ban on surge pricing, commuters are finding it next-to-impossible to book app-based cabs during peak hours.

While Ola refused to comment, Uber admitted that surge pricing was to blame for unavailability of cabs. “Pursuant with the Karnataka High Court orders, Uber has turned off surge pricing in Bengaluru. With no surge pricing, the availability of cabs has become unreliable. The unfulfilled rate (percentage of riders not getting a cab when they request for it) has gone up from 3% earlier when surge was applicable to about 40% now.

“Lack of surge pricing discourages drivers from doing trips during rains and other periods of peak demand,” an Uber spokesperson said.


“Cabs were always available and the fare is also affordable as compared to auto-rickshaws. But now it is really impossible to get a cab, especially during peak hours after the ban on surge-pricing,” said Shahana. She said the government should first take action against errant auto drivers before cracking down on cab operators.

And, the Transport department has quite adeptly, used the "divide and rule" formula to go about it, as seen from the following excerpts from "thenewsminute"  report (full text, accessible here):

In a decade or so, when we look back at why the Indian startup ecosystem failed to attain its true potential, Ola will make for a good case study.

Healthy competition is key in a free market. Competition gives customers choice, helps prevent monopolies and encourages innovation and efficiency. But thanks to Ola, neither is the competition healthy, nor the market free.

A free market isn’t one that’s free of all regulation. Regulations are important, particularly when the market fails, and has to be pushed towards desired results. But Ola is not backing regulations, it is helping pave the way for a crony startup ecosystem that thrives on corruption and restrictive legislation that benefits only a few.  It is opening the field to a war where court battles, political intervention and lopsided regulations are tools of victory, not better technology and efficiency.

In all of this, the citizen and the city become the losers. If a properly regulated regime of cab and bus aggregation were in place, the city can turn far more liveable almost overnight.

NaMo's recent reshuffle seemed to take into account the performance of the ministers. Apparently, Namma CM-avara considerations are a lot different.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

non-starter

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Fed up of crowded buses during peak hours? Here’s good news, especially for techies. Private mini-buses could be connecting you to the IT corridors soon. The BMTC is the sole provider of bus transport in Bengaluru. Private operators will be allowed to run mini-buses with 15 to 22 seats, according to a proposal.

We are examining the legal implications, since BMTC holds the exclusive right to run public transport in the city. The Transport Department will have to issue stage carriage permits to private firms,” said a BMTC official.

The department recently stopped the introduction of private maxi-cabs on the grounds that intra-city transport was the BMTC’s look-out. The BMTC will not allow money transactions on the private buses. “Availability of seats will be displayed on the BMTC website and commuters will have to book their seats online,” an official source said.  

The idea is to generate revenue for BMTC and tackle congestion in the IT corridors by reducing the number of cars. “We are yet to decide on the fares,” said another BMTC official.

- - - urban expert M N Sreehari is not so upbeat. “Private firms ply only on profit-making routes. The arrangement may also lead to corruption,” he said.


The BMTC is facing a financial crunch, especially after this month’s revision of salaries. It has not added any new buses since December 2014.  The BMTC deploys about 700 buses to corporate destinations. About 50 companies have tied up with it to pick up and drop their employees.

For the full text (emphasis added by me) of the report in the New Indian Express, click here.

This is clearly an admission by the Transport department (rather the ministry) of BMTC's capacity limitations. It augurs well that it has finally come to accept that.

Now, the tech entrepreneurs (like ZipGo) had seen it, quite some time ago as an opportunity for business, and worked out their bus aggregation model, which I'd rate as far better than the odd-even scheme (for reducing congestion in city roads), for which Arvind Kejriwal was named in the recent Fortune-100 listings.

But now, going by this report, the government's plan seems to be to hijack the model to augment BMTC's revenue earnings !!! - just forget it, it's not going to work, quite like its earlier "wet lease operation" of private buses too (perhaps, this is what Prof Sreehari is referring to).

The city is desperate for solutions. ZipGo, Ola, Uber, etc have excellent models that can help greatly. But, Transport dept/ ministry continues to live in the past. It's time the entire lot, from the minister downwards, is replaced with a forward thinking team. May be the start-up minister, Sri Priyank Kharge, would like to take note.

And, as for BMTC, it'd be best if it strengthens its Big-10 and trunk operations, and left the rest to organised private sector operators, perhaps along this model - of course, all of it overseen by a properly constituted and empowered UMTA.

And, as for Prof Sreehari's comments "Private firms ply only on profit-making routes" - wouldn't it reduce congestion to that extent at least, Sir? Also, that need not be so, if you pursue the model cited above. Further, one hopes he begins to see meaning in the truism " father waits one hour to save Rs 10/-; the son spends Rs 10/- to save one hour".

Also, this arrangement whereby "BMTC deploys about 700 buses to corporate destinations. About 50 companies have tied up with it to pick up and drop their employees" should be considered against overall public interest, since it deprives the aam aadmi of basic services, particularly given the fact the BMTC is a government-run monopoly.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

bike taxi's OK; BMTC monopoly yaakae???

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Bike taxi services, launched by cab aggregators Ola and Uber in March, took little time to catch the attention of Bengalureans. By April, bike taxis were hugely popular in the city, but transport department officials put a brake on these services and impounded the vehicles, citing lack of regulations. However, the regulations have now been framed, and bike taxis could well return on the city's roads.

- - - However, the auto drivers' unions in the city remain staunchly opposed to these regulations coming into effect, since they fear the bike taxis might take away more passengers. "We started losing heavily when Ola and Uber cabs began plying in the city. If bikes come into this sector, we will start losing single passengers as well," said M Manjunath, a representative of Adarsh Auto Union.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the ToI, click here.

Good to hear that the regulations have finally been framed. The city that is crippled by lack of good public transport (thanks to BMTC monopoly - check here) needs all forms of efficient, safe and cost effective public transport services. And, one would have liked the Transport Department to facilitate all of them - cab aggregation, bus aggregation, etc - straighaway, instead of playing cat and mouse games with them, as has been going on all this while. Now, while bikes are not quite the safest form of transport, even they could be considered, going by the affordability factor for the aam aadmi. As such, it is a good augury that the Transport Department has finally framed its regulations - one hopes they do facilitate the operations, and have not been framed keeping just revenue maximisation in view.

As for auto, as argued extensively here, it's time it is gradually phased out of the city.

But, the big ticket reform required still is the dismantling of the BMTC monopoly.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

govt monopoly is beginning to be questioned across the world now

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Cities such as New York and San Francisco have extensive public-transportation systems that carry millions of residents by bus, train, boat, and light rail. But in recent years, there’s been an expanding fleet of private vehicles too: Lyft, Uber, Juno, Uber Pool, and the Google Bus, to name a few. These offerings give commuters more choices, but may also undermine the public services available. They raise fundamental questions about the future of how people will get around cities.

- - - Why should anyone use public services if the private sector can provide the same service more efficiently? On an individual level, after all, the private bus was much more pleasant and not much more expensive. On the government level, privatization could save money. Privatizing public bus services could save $5.7 billion a year, according to a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in March.


- - - Matthew Mitchell, the director of the Project for the Study of American Capitalism at the Mercatus Institute, would like to see transit become completely privatized, with companies competing with each other to serve different lines, which would, he says, drive prices down. “Why not open up a system to market competition so that there can be a flourishing of all sorts of business models?” he said. When the airlines were deregulated, after all, cheap fares flourished, he said.

The private sector has some big advantages when it comes to improving existing infrastructure: It can innovate, using new technology and customer input in ways that government can’t. Government is huge, after all, and can’t experiment with money from venture capitalists to try out new ideas; it has to serve existing customers. This applies to things outside of transit, too. In today’s world, there are start-ups that try to create better schools, better mail delivery, and better loan products than what the government can currently provide.

- - - And if there are things that a city has decided it wants to provide—transit service to poor people who might not be able to afford the private options, for example—the government can provide vouchers so that people can choose whatever private option suits them best, Mitchell said. Rather than spending millions to operate multiple transit lines and modes—while losing money—the government can spend less and leave the headaches of running those systems to someone else. It can use the savings to pay for other, essential, government services. This is something cities across America are already experimenting with, contracting with ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft to provide rides to disabled people.

- - - A spokesperson for San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) says that the agency is open to collaborating with services that can improve its transportation network.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the CityLab, click here.

Indian entrepreneurs, like ZipGo, CityFlo, etc were well onto these services even as their counterparts in the advanced countries were still toying with the concept. But, the unfortunate part is that, unlike San Francisco's SFMTA, in Namma Bengaluru, it's Transport Department under a Transport minister, that decides on these matters. And, between them, their main interest is in building TTMC's wherever there's vacant land under the control of the BMTC, that's their fiefdom, whether such a TTMC is required there or not, apart from other furthering other similar pursuits, the reason for all of it being very obvious. Under them, the BMTC has become the biggest single reason for the extremely poor mobility quotient in the city, this then leading to pursuit of even more disastrous solutions like the steel flyover for the speedier access of the chauffeured car driven lot to the city airport - check here.

All in all, high time Bengaluru too had a properly constituted and duly empowered Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA), quite like SFMTA to steer our mobility planning and regulation.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

congestion capital of the country

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Cab aggregator Uber launched on Monday #SwitchToPool campaign in six cities — Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Kolkata and New Delhi — where it currently provides its uberPOOL facility. The campaign, which promotes carpooling, aims to find a solution to the rising pollution levels and congestion in the Indian cities.

- - - "The alarming levels of pollution in Delhi and congestion in Bengaluru made us to do our bit to address these issues. Initially, we announced 'Pool Thursdays' which made UberPool a default option in the app for most riders in Delhi and NCR. This was followed by weekly promotions like flat fares, last-mile connectivity offers among others to encourage cab riders to completely switch to pool through Uber. The response in Delhi encouraged us to start a nationwide campaign," said Shweta Rajpal Kohli, head of public policy, Uber India.

Based on an analysis of the data gathered from its app, Uber has said that 31% of all Uber trips in New Delhi during the last 30 days saw riders carpool, almost one in three Uber users shared ride with another commuter.

Shweta explained that the move has helped cut 3.558 million kg of carbon emissions and saved the company 32 million kilometres of travel and 1.5 million litres of fuel.


- - - Launched in October 2015, Ola Share is now available in more than 15 cities. The facility has seen a phenomenal rise in the number of users in the last one year. Over the last 8 to 10 months, Ola Share has helped cut 5 million kg of carbon emissions, besides saving the company over 2 million litres of fuel.

For the full text of the report in the ToI, click here.

Cab aggregators have been a boon for mobility in the city, otherwise handicapped by poor public transport services (thanks to BMTC monopoly - check here), and the largely undependable auto (check here). Even as that's the case, the Transport ministry and its minions seem more interested in milking them for their personal gains, rather than facilitating their operations. So much so, even the court has had to direct the Transport Department officials "not take coercive action against them". Relevant excerpts from a ToI report (for the full text, click here), in this connection, are reproduced below:

"During pendency of these matters, the authorities shall not take coercive action against taxi operators who are plying with licence obtained under Section 88(9) of the Motor Vehicles Act" a division bench headed by Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee said. Four cab drivers, who had filed a writ appeal, claimed that transport department officials have been indiscriminately impounding vehicles owned by drivers-subscribers of aggregator platforms and harassing them. The state did not give time for owners of taxis to make necessary arrangements to comply with the rules, they added.

For all its IT prowess and many other positives, Bengaluru has unfortunately become characerised by its notorious traffic congestion. But, for all of that, it's unfortunate that the CM doesn't seem to see the need to have a more competent team to look for sustainable solutions on the bigger canvas.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

welcome set of guidelines from Centre

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The Centre's new guidelines governing taxi operators across the country will allow aggregators such as Ola and Uber to charge up to three times the minimum fare during the day and up to four times between midnight and 5 am. The guidelines will be submitted to the Delhi high court next week.

- - - The road transport ministry will submit the guidelines to the Delhi High Court next week. These have been framed after wide consultation with taxi players, state and central government departments following a Delhi High Court direction. With the aim to liberalise the entry and operation of taxis in order to push share riding and discourage use of private vehicles in cities.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the ToI, click here.

Overall, quite a satisfactory set of guidelines, one may say, particularly compared to the 'rubbish' that namma Transport department came up with (check my post of 11th April, scrolling above). If anyone has still has any reservations about surge pricing, the following excerpts from an interview of of Mr Travis Kalanick, the big boss of Uber (in the Wall Street Journal, ckeck here to read the full text), should put paid to them:

You know that if you buy a flight on the day before Christmas, it's probably 10 times more expensive than two weeks after Christmas. You're OK with that and you understand it. But in ground transportation, there's been fixed pricing for 100 years. Because of that, there's an education process. - - - - Friday night is three or five times bigger than a Sunday night in any city around the world. And if you've got enough supply on the system so that we were perfectly supplied on a Friday night for as much demand as a city could ever throw at us, then the rest of the week you have drivers not making a living.

If it still doesn't may be a reading of this will perhaps help guage their overall outlook.

And, now that these have been framed, would the Karnataka government like to invite ZipGo and the like back, and end Bengalurean's suffering under the BMTC monopoly tyranny?

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

there's no more any justification to the monopoly

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Following are the excerpts (in italics) from a report in the New Indian Express under the caption "BMTC up in arms against private shuttle services" (to access the full text, click here), and my counter to them (in regular text):

transport and BMTC officials are of the opinion that no other stage carrier except BMTC should ply in the city.

Why?????

A transport official said: “Shuttle services of private app-based companies are illegal as they have only contract carriage permit that allows them only to transport passengers from one point to another. They are not allowed to pick up or drop passengers like BMTC buses. Stage carriage permit in the city is BMTC’s exclusive right.

Why should we continue to follow archaic rules that are totally against public interest?????

BMTC officials said app-based operators are operating only on profitable routes like IT corridors, which will affect BMTC’s revenue. “We are able to run buses on loss making ordinary routes because of the revenue from routes like IT corridors,” a BMTC official said.

Facilitate their operations properly and they will cover every nook and cranny in the city far more efficiently and affordably than BMTC has been doing. We have seen this in every other sector that has opened out to competition.

Following are some more extracts from the report which are relevant to this debate:

a) Around the world, in cities where bus services are good, there are at least 120 buses per lakh of population. Using that yardstick, Bengaluru should have at least 14,000 buses. However, BMTC has only 6,214 buses. The percentage cancellation of schedules has increased from 3.2 percent in 2011-12 to a record 15.1 percent in 2016-17.

b) An online petition initiated by ZipGo on Change.org asking the support of citizens has received 6,800 supporters so far. Citizen Anshul P wrote on the petition, “The government has failed to provide affordable and reliable public transport and when someone innovates and tries to address the issue, government has a problem. Not fair.”

And, even as BMTC complains about the private players, the following excerpts from another New Indian Express report (accessible here), clearly bring out their incapacity to meet today's demands effectively:

BMTC operates nearly 70 Metro feeder buses but public patronage remains poor because of poor frequency of buses and lack of information on arrival and departure of feeder buses.

- - - He(a commuter)added, “There are hardly any BMTC feeder buses from Byappanahalli Metro station after 9pm. Auto drivers demand more than double the meter fare. Pre-paid counters will ensure that passengers are dropped at the destination they mention.”

And, this has been the case right from the beginning - check here.

Essentially, time for the BMTC monopoly to go. Perhaps everyone could endorse the "LetZipGoRun" petition, to begin with. If the government doesn't relent, perhaps, I'll revive my PIL too.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

most retrograde & shameful move by Transport dept

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The Commissioner suggested that the OlaShare and UberPool services could go on if the pick-up and drop points of the commuters are the same as the rules suggest that cab services cannot pick up and drop passengers at different locations. This is because they do not have stage carriage permits. This permit is issued only to BMTC buses.

The transport authority has also said that if the cab aggregators fail to comply with the rules, the car-pooling service would be suspended.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in The News Minute, click here.

Even as the entire world is exhorting people to use car pools, here's the Transport Dept banning shared cab rides, using the archaic Contract/ Stage Carriage rules (check here for the difference), for no obvious reason other than to perpetuate the vested interests of the mafia confederation that it's a part of. It's these very rules that have been used by them, all this while, to keep out effective competition to BMTC and KSRTC, and in the process, cause mobility to be ranked at about the lowest amongst the factors affecting quality of life in the city and the state.     

All in all, high time Bengaluru had a properly constituted and duly empowered Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) to steer our mobility planning and regulation, quite as envisaged under the Road Transport and Safety Bill (check here), awaiting Parliament approval. Now, whereas a "dynamic" city, like Namma Bengaluru should normally have been leading this exercise, the transport mafia confederation is not going to be allowing it too easily, and that's all the more the reason why the citizens need to come together to demand its implementation right away.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Uber online petition

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Accessible here - https://action.uber.org/blrneedspool/

I have endorsed it - would invite everyone to follow suit too.

Muralidhar Rao
pathykv's picture

I have signed. K.V.Pathy

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I have signed.

K.V.Pathy

pathykv's picture

Archaic Rules should be

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Archaic Rules should be repealed.

K.V.Pathy

murali772's picture

junking dept and ministry, and ushering in UMTA, long overdue

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App-based aggregators Ola and Uber may soon have to install digital meters and get it approved by the Department of Legal Metrology.

- - - According to rules, any measuring instrument that leads to a transaction should be verified by the Legal Metrology Department. The Karnataka On-Demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules, 2016, also make it mandatory for taxis to operate with digital meters that can generate printed receipts.

A recent study conducted by International Center for Automotive Technology (ICAT) found that poor mobile network may create discrepancies in calculating fares by measuring distance using GPS. The study also found that malfunctioning GPS due to poor mobile signals resulted in an increase in the fare in most cases.  

Autorickshaw and taxi unions in the city have been demanding that app-based operators should also install digital meters claiming that present GPS-enabled phones are not accurate in calculating the distance travelled.

However, many commuters says that app-based fare calculation using GPS is more reliable than traditional meters. “Many autorickshaws in the city are plying with tampered meters, but enforcement agencies has not taken any action against them so far. We can at least track the distance using the app, but there is no such facility in autorickshaws and taxis,” says K Sathish Kumar, a regular auto passenger.


For the full text (emphasis added by me) of the report in the ToI, click here.

The retrograde provisions in The Karnataka On-Demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules, 2016, one had thought, was challenged by UBER in the courts, leading to the Centre, on its own, coming up with a fresh set of guidelines (check my post of 19th Dec, scrolling above), which was largely acceptable to most aggregators, as also the public at large. But, obviously, it has hurt the vested interests of the "Karnataka Transport Mafia Confederation" (which includes the auto-rickshaw lot too), and thereby the harking to this new tool to harrass the aggregators. Very obvious too, is the fact that the stakes are huge, and it's going to take some doing to keep the mafia at bay, particularly so when a section of the politicos seem to be part of it, or in fact, heading it. What else can be the motivation for the demand to revert to outmoded technologies?

Yes, there were a few issues between the aggregators and their drivers, to which solutions would have to evolve, largely out of dialogue between representatives of the two groups. And, to help arrive at equitable solutions, the matter could ideally been overseen by the UMTA, apart from the main role envisaged for it of being the overseeing authority for the implementation of the guidelines issued by the Centre. All in all, what is needed most urgently is the institution of the UMTA, simultaneous with the winding up of the Transport Deaprtment, and perhaps the ministry too.

Muralidhar Rao
srinidhi's picture

is BMTC stressed?

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have seen that Auto drivers and other taxi drivers also shifting to gps based billing..and if increased fares is the problem..its the commuters who need to complain not the unions..

we have all seen and experienced how accurate the auto meters are..and the shops around town which tweak the meters for the drivers advantage..

Btw it seems BMTC is most hurt from share cab rides..as their very expensive volvo rides could be getting thinner for commuters preferring cabs instead..

Yes, UMTA is the only solution for all this !!

murali772's picture

they know their business

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Jain (Uber CountryHead) said for Uber to have a sustainable business proposition, the drivers also need to make good money. "If the earnings for drivers are not the most attractive, then we don't have a business to begin with. So we continue to ensure that it is at an optimum level of what a rider is willing to pay and how much earnings make it attractive for drivers," Jain said.

For the full text of the report in the ToI, click here.

As I had mentioned earlier too, they seem to know their business, and they are here to stay. It'll be good if the government can accept that fast enough, and facilitate their much appreciated (by the public) role for the benefit of all concerned (except the vested interests).

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

'touching' earnestness to abide by law

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Soon, app-based cabs may be barred from offering the ride-sharing option to customers in the capital. The City Taxi Scheme, 2017, the draft of which is being finalised by the Delhi government's transport department, is likely to ban this service as "it's legally not permitted".
 
"In principle, we are in favour of cab sharing as it not only provides affordable commuting option to passengers but also reduces the number of vehicles on roads. However, such operations don't come under the present legal framework as taxis are only allowed to be hired from one point to another and cannot pick and drop passengers," a government official said.
 
- - - Taxis in the city run on contract carriage permits, which allow them to be hired from one point to another. This means cabs can't pick up or drop multiple passengers. Only vehicles with a stage carriage permit, such as public buses, are allowed to pick and drop passengers at multiple points.
 
For the full text (emphasis added by me) of the report in GadgetsNow, click here.
 
The AAP government's talk of an earnestness to abide by the legalities would have been well received, had it not been for their rather questionable track record on the score. The following response from a reader, on the other hand, sums it all up more aptly:
 
"When the government knows that people are so much conveniences with Uberpool and Ola share due to lesser cost and more availability, cant they simply change the rule and let it continue. I am pretty sure it will continue in Mumbai due to the transparent BJP government there. Being a resident of Delhi NCR, i badly repent on our choice of an anti-people government."
 
The bigger loss to the city and its citizens is of the services of "ZipGo/ CityFlo", which in effect could replicate the "odd-even scheme" benefits without its pains
 
This is of a piece with AAP govt's statist approach, using the retrograde and out-dated 'Contract Carriage Act', more fully described here, apart from the pandering of the 'kalee-peeli' taxi and auto-rickshaw vote bank.
 
Muralidhar Rao

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