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Vajra/Volvos doing well

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BusPublic Transport

Times of India reports that Volvo's are doing well now:

Ridership in Volvo buses has increased during peak hours as well as non-peak hours and monthly passes are selling like hot cakes. Volvos are no longer making losses.

Volvo ridership during non-peak hours, particularly at noon, has shot up from 40%-45% to 68%- 70% - more than 25% jump; Volvo monthly passes which would sell at 3,000 a month now sell at 11,000 despite the cost of pass being Rs 1,350-Rs 1,400; and ridership during peak hours which one would expect to touch 100% and a bit more is as high as 200%.

Further ...

“The sharp rise in ridership is the central factor that has enabled Volvos to break even. Volvos are no longer running on loss. The acceptance of Volvos by the people is larger now. There is a realisation among people that they are getting value for money - reliable, comfortable public transport, a crying need of the city. The rise in ridership has also enhanced the returns per kilometre - earlier Volvos would earn Rs 32 per km, now they earn Rs 46. So the cost of operation is working out for BMTC. We are thankful to the commuters and we want more of them to take to the Volvos,” BMTC MD Syed Zameer Pasha told The Times of India.

Read more details from Source (TOI).

Comments

Naveen's picture

Untrue to say Volvos losing money

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Travelling from HAL to KBS once during peak hours, I also noticed most volvo buses (routes 335E, 333P, etc) running full with no place to stand on most buses.

The above article makes clear that volvos are well patronized & accepted by bangalore's commuters. Passes are selling well too.

So, comments by a few that they are losing money & are too expensive may seem misplaced & incorrect.

muthusubs's picture

Separate ring for Volvos in Majestic

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I don't understand why BMTC has separate rings for volvo buses in Majestic. This kills the usage in routes other than ITPL and Electronic city and makes them run under losses because frequency of normal buses is much higher. No one would wait for these buses in the volvo rings in that case and they would ply empty. This has to be rectified soon for the other routes to start making profits.

pathykv's picture

Vajra service

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BMTC claim that Vajras are now running full at peak hours. This is only due to increase in demand which is not met by proportionate increase in ordinary bus services.  Hapless Commuters are forced to use Vajra buses as they cannot get into ordinary buses which burst at the seams. At the platforms of Majestic bus station always number of Vajra buses can be seen waiting for commuters and commuters waiting for ordinary buses which are not enough to meet the demand, esp. at peak hours. The fate of commuters waiting at intermediate bus stops can be imagined. Such commuters have no option but to get into Vajra buses paying more than what they can afford.

It is high time that BMTC should be bifurcated for Vajra services and ordinary services so that each can focus on the respective demands. Also a third agency should be formed for exclusively operating MINIBUSES for Intra-Nagar and last mile feeder services.

K.V.Pathy

murali772's picture

distortion

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So the cost of operation is working out for BMTC - the catch lies here, in the fine print.

Irrespective of what Mr Zameer Pasha or Mr Ashoka may want to claim, there's no way the BMTC's VOLVO operations can be making profits, except perhaps 'operational profits' on some routes, which Mr Pasha is extrapolating to project as 'profitable' operation on the whole. It is plainly a distortion. In fact, the inefficient way the buses are deployed (two 256C's - or some numbering like that - both near empty racing against each other on the old airport road is a very common sight), they are a sure drain on the finances of the BMTC, which fact will have to come out sooner or later. As such, BMTC's janata operations can be said to be subsidising its VOLVO operations today, meaning in effect the aam aadmi subsidising the IT executive's commute.

The upside of course is that to that extent the clutter caused by the exec's car/ bike is reduced.

Now, why should this unsustainable and inequitous scenario continue? Can we not have the best of both worlds by facilitating the entry of organised sector players into the high-end operations, and eventually handing it over to them totally? Facilitating will include congestion charging of cars, priority for movement of buses (including those of BMTC) during peak hours, low vehicle tax, etc, etc. With all of these, and also their overall managerial capabilities, the organised sector players will soon start making profits and the operations will become more than sustainable. Besides, BMTC will be forced to catch up with the new operational standards set by them, benefitting the aam aadmi to that extent.

Though most people agree with this view, very few are prepared to say so in the open considering the predominantly Socialistic mindset of the poeple, even as 'Namma Bengaluru' has, on the other hand, become the bugbear of the likes of Barrack Obama.

Muralidhar Rao
Naveen's picture

BMTC - dissent without proof

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Hapless Commuters are forced to use Vajra buses as they cannot get into ordinary buses which burst at the seams

One can see vajras also bursting at the seams during peak hours. 'Hapless' commuters are not going to buy expensive monthly bus passes costing Rs.1350-1400 if they find the service not meeting their needs. How do you explain the sales going up nearly four times from 3,000 to 11,000 ?

The upside of course is that to that extent the clutter caused by the exec's car/ bike is reduced

This is certainly one of the motives for operating vajras, & it is showing some results with the increase in patronage.

the entry of organised sector players....new operational standards set by them

This is merely wishful thinking. Are there any organized private sector bus players in the country in intra-city operations ? What standards have they set so far ? Bus privatization has resulted in pedestrians getting killed routinely in Delhi. Road safety standards are poor in Mangalore & Kochi because these buses race one another to capture passengers & for more business, they cancel or terminate trips midway whenever they do not have sufficient passengers, they do not maintain any time table & services are purely subject to availability of passengers, etc.

Those that are passionate about the need for privatization & for organized bus companies need to work out strategies & suggest ways to get some out of the vast pool of low grade run-of-the-mill operators to reform - one such suggestion is here. Private buses certainly cannot be let loose on the streets without all the necessary safeguards & only after incentives have been placed with sufficient checks & balances to result in getting the best for commuters.

most people agree with this view....predominantly Socialistic mindset of the poeple

This again appears to be merely wishful thinking. Is there a poll with sufficient sample size in numbers to substantiate & justify this statement ?

ss87's picture

  I completely agree with

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I completely agree with neveen-i met a person from kochi and as we were talking about the services said that private players had turned to be killers-not only for people outside the bus but also people inside the bus-and Kerala govt acquired about 100 JNNURM buses for Kochi and now the rush has simply shifted to them from the private players-so definitely privat eplayers arent solving the problem

 

About 2 years back had got to travel in a recognized pvt travels volvo bus from Madurai to Bangalore-he took almost 11 1/2 hrs for covering the strech against normal time of 9 1/2 hrs taken by govt buses

 

It is true that competition will definitely help the people but I dont feel the same doesnt hold good for public transport as far as I have seen-It has always been on worse side. It is better to let the public sector itself operate the buses rather than having the Pvt. players entering the market

With Metro all set to begin in few years it is now immaterial to have a competition for road transport-BMTC having 5800 and odd buses if provides good run with the Metro will definitely solve problems to some extent.

when we had the auto strike few days back Bangalore mirror reported that the city's public transport will definitely not let the people suffer-a point seriously to be agreed upon considering what was the scenario few years back. Let us give the corporation with 5800 buses,36 depots and having one of youngest fleet a bit more time to  expand itself for benefit of public-Publisizing itself will seriously have the effects for BMTC

Vasanth's picture

Volvo Mantra Grabbing Croud from Private to Govt. Buses

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Mangalore too had lot of private operators competing with each others. KSRTC's introduction of Volvos have shifted them to Volvos. Mangalore being humid, A/C buses with excellent pickup which private ordinary leyland/tata buses cannot reach has been the  Mantra for KSRTC.

Mysore too is seeing excellent Volvo usage with introduction of Volvos between Mysore-Nanjangud, Mysore - Srirangapatna, Mysore - Mandya, Mysore - KRS and Mysore - Chamundi Hills apart from other residential areas also being connected by Volvos. There are no private operators though in Mysore.

In Bangalore alone, we see so many private buses running between Banashankari to ITPL and Banashankari to Attibele. But, officials such as IT folks never take them up. Their swanky horns and the rude and uneducated drivers and conductors will never be attractive.

It may work out only when Grand Private operator like Kingfisher or Reliance enters into City Bus Operations with Grand City Buses. Opportunity exists in connecting Non-stop from key areas to IT areas with luxury buses to attract car users.No private operator is willing to take up this I believe.

 

 

Vasanth's picture

Office Shuttles vs Volvos

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I was originally using Volvos for office commute and found it difficult during late evenings. Hence switched over to Office Shuttle. Almost all the office shuttles, although comfortable with guarantee of seatings and timings, is problematic since they operate very early in the morning starting at 7- 7:15.  It is very difficult for people to catch up these early morning shuttles since many come back late in the night after finishing their calls with onsite counterparts. Again waking up early in the morning to catch up the shuttle is very pain. We cannot concentrate anything on the home side.

Most of the people when they miss the office shuttle early in the morning take up Volvos or drive down. Good thing about using  City Buses  is that you can come back by office shuttle by saving the petrol.

Lot of people hence moved over to Volvos by taking Monthly pass since they were regularly missing shuttles in the morning and had to pay both office buses and Volvo tickets. I am a similar customer. But, many face the last mile problem which I think could be solved by the upcoming TTMCs with parking facilities. Office shuttles though operate to almost all the possible employee destinations.

My company has provided free usage without subscription to office shuttles for late night shuttles operating once at 8 PM and again at 10 PM. This way late night travelling back home problem is also solved.

murali772's picture

deja vous

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@Naveen
Are there any organized private sector bus players in the country in intra-city operations?

Before the telecom and civil aviation sectors opened up, none of the present players even existed. Today, in some 10/ 15 years, many are world leaders, contributing in addition to the near double-digit growth of the country's economy.

What standards have they set so far ? Bus privatization has resulted in pedestrians getting killed routinely in Delhi. Road safety standards are poor in Mangalore & Kochi because these buses race one another to capture passengers & for more business, they cancel or terminate trips midway whenever they do not have sufficient passengers, they do not maintain any time table & services are purely subject to availability of passengers, etc.

We have gone through all of these before - here's one such thread. Besides, the government has sloped the playing field in every possible way against the private players - check this, which is also why the big names have kept out. Like I have repeatedly stated before, public bus transport services is too vital an infrastructure sector to remain a monopoly, particularly of government players. It desperately needs the managerial and financial capabilities of organised sector players, and their entry needs to be pro-actively facilitated. And, that can make for even faster economic growth, with the aam aadmi becoming more productive and consequently a first-hand beneficiary.

Those that are passionate about the need for privatization & for organized bus companies need to work out strategies & suggest ways to get some out of the vast pool of low grade run-of-the-mill operators to reform - one such suggestion is here. Private buses certainly cannot be let loose on the streets without all the necessary safeguards & only after incentives have been placed with sufficient checks & balances to result in getting the best for commuters.

But, when the government refuses to even review its monopoly policy, where does one start?

most people agree with this view....predominantly Socialistic mindset of the poeple. This again appears to be merely wishful thinking. Is there a poll with sufficient sample size in numbers to substantiate & justify this statement ?

Whatever, I can't see how else any one can support monopolies in today's world, and that too of government players.


@ss87
I completely agree with neveen-i met a person from kochi and as we were talking about the services said that private players had turned to be killers-not only for people outside the bus but also people inside the bus.

The Kochi scene I should know pretty well - check this

Kerala govt acquired about 100 JNNURM buses for Kochi and now the rush has simply shifted to them from the private players-so definitely privat eplayers arent solving the problem.

The Kerala SRTC has never claimed to be running on profits, unlike the BMTC. The state continues to remain steeped in Socialism, and offers services below cost in all sectors, which culture has ended up with all of them remaining mediocre at best, and ideal hunting grounds for buccaneers, cloaked in Marxist garb. So, extending the below cost services to the upper classes is in the same spirit.

But, I doubt if you can appreciate all that, since perhaps you subscribe more to this philosophy


@Vasanth
In Bangalore alone, we see so many private buses running between Banashankari to ITPL and Banashankari to Attibele. But, officials such as IT folks never take them up. Their swanky horns and the rude and uneducated drivers and conductors will never be attractive.

It may work out only when Grand Private operator like Kingfisher or Reliance enters into City Bus Operations with Grand City Buses. Opportunity exists in connecting Non-stop from key areas to IT areas with luxury buses to attract car users.No private operator is willing to take up this I believe.


Yes, these belong to the same class as those in Kochi, and the Blueline of Delhi. Apart from that are the other challenges they face - check this. Mangalore players are a grade higher. But, the facilitation of entry of big players will eliminate the riff-raff, and the Mangalore lot will upgrade their services to become the efficient janata class, like say Go-Air, Indigo, Spicejet, etc, while the Mallya's and Ambani's can provide the equivalent of Kingfisher and Jet services.

And, your last post quite clearly brings out the short-comings in the present services.
 

Muralidhar Rao
Naveen's picture

@Murali - Some answers

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Before the telecom and civil aviation sectors opened up, none of the present players even existed. Today, in some 10/ 15 years, many are world leaders, contributing in addition to the near double-digit growth of the country's economy.

The common man was not effected by the higher tariffs in Telecom & Aviation when they had first begun to be privatized - these were considered luxuries for the majority at that time, & still are to many. These are not comparable with city public transport, which is necessary even for the lowest segments of society all the time - we have discussed this before. So, tinkering with city bus privatization is somewhat akin to privatizing low cost public health, low cost food & fuel, etc (social services) with added road safety risks.

public bus transport services is too vital an infrastructure sector to remain a monopoly, particularly of government players

This is now an all too familiar assertion :) & I agree that public monopolies can not provide the best of services indefinitely, though BMTC is doing a fair job. However, moves towards privatization must be aimed without risk to lives of pedestrians & road traffic whilst meeting social obligations, which is why privatizating this sector requires careful handling considering the backlashes that can be anticipated if fares go too high. there is also the question of BMTC employee unions to be dealt with.

where does one start

Certainly not by throwing open the sector to open privatization the way you are proposing without working on the many details & safeguards. The kind of operators in Kochi & Mangalore are unsafe & worse than BMTC. Whatever is campaigned for must first address the deficiencies that such operations have. I had attempted once before by making suggestions that can utilize BMTC's experience as also keep the employees happy. Perhaps, that is the only way it can be done.

pathykv's picture

Public Transport - Public Sector / Private Sector

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We are going round and round (as they say in Tamil, grinding the same batter repeatedly)!.

What is required is affordable and adequate bus service mainly for the lower class majority commuters(without prejudice to the upper class). This should be able to take the commuter nearest ( say within 500 meters) to where he/she wants to go, not as at present, commuter having no option but to go wherever the bus takes him as per their (the transporter's) own schedule.

Like in other sectors, parallel operation should be tried out allowing private sector to choose the routes wherever not covered by Public sector routes, esp. the last mile/KM.

Of course regulations about safety, fares etc. should be worked out, but within reasonable timeframe.

K.V.Pathy

Naveen's picture

@Pathy - Yr concerns

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This should be able to take the commuter nearest ( say within 500 meters) to where he/she wants to go, not as at present, commuter having no option but to go wherever the bus takes him as per their (the transporter's) own schedule.

You have been mentioning about the last mile, within 500m, etc. Could you please give a few examples as to which exact spots can be covered better ? You also mentioned about schedule above. Could you elaborate what schedules (by time) are lacking & where exactly (by area) ?

Maybe we can take this up with BMTC. I had some concerns earlier & they had responded positively & taken action.

murali772's picture

dog in the manger

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The kind of operators in Kochi & Mangalore are unsafe & worse than BMTC

We have gone through this also before. I have not agreed with, and continue to do so.

Many Committees/ Task Forces recommendations, campaigns by various organisations (including PRAJA) have certainly had some impact on BMTC's working. But, There's far far way to go if it has to meet the city's burgeoning needs. And unlike in the case of telecom, the shift to usage of the services has to come largely from the current car/ two-wheeler users, if we have to find solutions to our traffic problems. And, these people value time greatly, apart from other things. A public sector monopoly can certainly not be expected to meet the challenge. The big time private players have to be facilitated entry, of course with proper regulation in place. Keep hammering that, and the rest will follow. Well, that's what I believe. And, with properly facilitated and regulated competition, the prices will remain in check, benefitting even the aam aadmi.

And, as for BMTC providing last mile connectivity - their 'experts' have some fixed notions about viability of operations, and all they are interested is in proving it. And, that's what they did, and very 'effectively' too, in the case of 'Koramangala shuttle', which they declared unviable and withdrew within a few weeks of commencement. It was started at my instance. So, Mr Pathy and you need not waste your time and energy on that any more.

And, when I ask for license to operate the service, the government says no - check this - talk of the dog in the manger.

Muralidhar Rao
Naveen's picture

PT buses not only for car /2-wlr users

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Many Committees/ Task Forces recommendations, campaigns by various organisations (including PRAJA) have certainly had some impact on BMTC's working

Well, you admit it has had some impact. There are probably several more committees /campaigns that we might not be aware of, particularly those serving nearby villages (red boards, primarily).

Since there are very diverse needs & requirements that have to be addressed by PT bus operators, trying to design services to shift usage of the services from car/ two-wheeler users will not be the only goal for BMTC, nor will it be for private bus co/s. They will also have to meet social needs.

Actually, social compulsions outweigh business goals & this is why private sector operations if chosen, will need very strict regulation, close monitoring & cleverly placed incentives to ensure that they discharge services based on various requirements, including fulfiling these obligations.

In the Kochi /Mangalore type of operations, there really is no regulation other than issue of licenses & the operator's motives are strictly business. This leads to compromises in quality & safety, though you might consider them very good. BMTC is preferable to such type of privatization since bangalore is too large & more thickly populated.

pathykv's picture

My concerns

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@Naveen,

I just give two locations where there are no BMTC access within 500 m.

1. Cambridge layout

2. Domlur layout.

There are hundreds of such areas. These can be served only by Minibuses. As BMTC is not interested, Govt. should deploy private operators for such a service.

Regarding BMTC schedules, the less said the better as we do not find any working schedules. Commuters have to take it or leave it and have no choice.

K.V.Pathy

murali772's picture

govt monopoly just unjustifiable

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Well, you admit it has had some impact.

What else is this? "There's no denying that BMTC has improved its services of recent, and is set to do even better with the roping in of the services of professionals like Prof Ashwin Mahesh of IIM, who has come up with innovations like the Big-10 services, etc" - check here.

But, in the very same sentence, I had added "But, whatever, a monopoly has its limitations, and a government one has even bigger limitations". And, that's the reality.

Since there are very diverse needs & requirements that have to be addressed by PT bus operators, trying to design services to shift usage of the services from car/ two-wheeler users will not be the only goal for BMTC, nor will it be for private bus co/s. They will also have to meet social needs.

So, let the BMTC meet the social needs, and let the private operators meet the high-end needs (where BMTC is any way losing money), which is what my opening comment in this thread was all about. Very clearly, the BMTC is not in a position to retain the custom of people like Vasanth, as also the likes who have posted here and here, who are far more demanding, particularly on reliability, than the 'old strap-hangers'.

Actually, social compulsions outweigh business goals & this is why private sector operations if chosen, will need very strict regulation, close monitoring & cleverly placed incentives to ensure that they discharge services based on various requirements, including fulfiling these obligations.

The effectiveness (rather ineffectiveness) of BMTC's meeting the so-called social obligations is clear from a reading of Mr Pathy ( a senior citizen, who largely uses buses for commuting)'s posts. Well, even if, for arguments' sake, it be granted that BMTC does meet some of it, no problem, let them continue in that role. But, in the meanwhile, why don't they allow private players in areas (like shuttle services, apart from the high-end services) where they have openly stated that they find their operations unviable?

In the Kochi /Mangalore type of operations, there really is no regulation other than issue of licenses & the operator's motives are strictly business. This leads to compromises in quality & safety, though you might consider them very good. BMTC is preferable to such type of privatization since bangalore is too large & more thickly populated.

BMTC's operations on the other hand are anything but business-like. And, the Vypeen island forming part of the Kochi corporation used to figure in the Guiness book for the highest population density in the world - may not be now.
 

Muralidhar Rao
Naveen's picture

Mere wishful thinking cannot justify arguments

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So, let the BMTC meet the social needs, and let the private operators meet the high-end needs (where BMTC is any way losing money), which is what my opening comment in this thread was all about. Very clearly, the BMTC is not in a position to retain the custom of people like Vasanth, as also the likes who have posted here and here, who are far more demanding, particularly on reliability, than the 'old strap-hangers'.

An estimated 43% of the trips are on BMTC buses in bangalore as per CTTP survey, & their volvo bus patronage is increasing as per recent reports - these are facts & is not wishful thinking. Not everyone will find buses the best of convenience for their needs - this is true of every city. The example is Vasanth, who finds it convenient for travel in one direction whilst he finds it inconvenient for the other. A few dissenting voices are always to be expected when it concerns PTs, but this minute sample is not enough to draw conclusions from. Your conclusions appear to be merely wishful thinking as I mentioned before.

why don't they allow private players in areas (like shuttle services, apart from the high-end services) where they have openly stated that they find their operations unviable?

BMTC has recently stated that high-end bus operations have become viable with increased patronage - so, there is no point in repeating that they are unviable each time to justify your rants - it doesn't change anything. If it is unviable for BMTC, it would be even more unviable for private operators since they may find it even harder to meet costs with only bus operations & no other sources of income. We know the kind of low grade private players we have. If allowed to enter the scene, they will misuse the terms of the license & provide sub-standard services as highlighted by Vasanth. This is why city bus privatization cannot be done so easily in this country, nor anywhere.

In Chennai, for example, there are these auto like contraptions with long benches fitted. After disembarking from a bus at Annanagar, I once asked such an auto if he would go to 13th main (I wasn't sure where it was other than that it was near the bus depot). The tempo driver stated that he would go if there were four persons, or if I was prepared to pay 50rs. I later took an ordinary looking auto, who made the trip for 30rs for barely a km. So, what is different about them from our autos for last mile options ?

BMTC's operations on the other hand are anything but business-like.

Exactly - they are also meeting social obligations & trying to meet costs by generating revenues from real estate & advertising. No well run, organized PT in the world is run purely for business - revenues are generated from diverse other sources, which in turn are used to subsidise bus or train fares. BRT operators are the only private operators run independently as businesses, but even such operations are with publically owned infratructure. Thus, there are high investments & costs initially to the city.

I suggest you research & read further about how PT operations are run elsewhere & how costs are met before continuing to canvass for private operators of the kind found in Kochi or Mangalore. Privatization, if to be done for large Indian cities, must depart from the conventional methods that you prescribe & needs far more introspection than merely quoting telephony or airlines.

the Vypeen island forming part of the Kochi corporation used to figure in the Guiness book for the highest population density in the world - may not be now.

As you admit, it does not have the highest population density anymore. Further, when I referred to population & city size, it was obviously with reference to the number of vehicles & traffic on the roads & the much larger road safety risks if such third-grade operators were let loose on the streets.

skumaras's picture

Where privatization hasn’t worked

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I am generally a supporter of privatization, and I am a happy user of private buses for intra-city transport, but in this specific case of inter-city bus operation, I would tend to agree with Naveen, and am skeptical whether privatization will solve our transportation problems.

We already have a good example of the involvement of private sector in public transport - the ubiquitous auto rickshaws. They are all privately owned and we all know what sort of service they provide. There are supposed to be regulations about safety, fare etc. in their operation too. But unionization among the operators and corruption among the law enforcers have resulted in the public getting a raw deal.

 How do we ensure that a similar situation will not happen if we allow the private sector for city bus service?


murali772's picture

conventional?

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Privatization, if to be done for large Indian cities, must depart from the conventional methods that you prescribe

Conventional approach is what has been attempted all these years, ie asking the BMTC to improve. I wonder where we would have been if likewise we had been asking BSNL and Indian Airlines (or their then avatars) to improve 10 to 20 years back. Well, if people want to remain apologists for monopoly government operators, I guess it's their privilege.
 

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

firstly, provide a level playing field

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@skumars

The question simply is are you happy with a monopoly government service provider? If yes, perhaps you would also subscribe to this, and may God bless you. Otherwise, demand facilitation of healthy competition. The conditions the private players are operating under today is stifling, to say the least - check this

Muralidhar Rao
Naveen's picture

@Pathy - Last Mile

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Cambridge layout & Domlur layout - there are buses running through Ulsoor & also through old airport rd. For last mile, autos are available, just like anywhere else. Minibuses are not being run through residential areas in any city since I think such local loops are usually unviable.

private operators for such a service -  Please see my last post above. In Chennai, the auto-tempos with benches in some areas are worse than bangalore's autos. They also give the city's PT a poor image with unregulated private providers that clog narrow roads such as the narrow alleys off beach station rd (eg. Linghichetty street).

Regarding BMTC schedules, the less said the better as we do not find any working schedules. Commuters have to take it or leave it and have no choice.

I think this is the same in all Indian cities since the road /traffic conditions do not allow schedules to be maintained. So, blaming BMTC for this seems out of place. Perhaps it'll make better sense to blame the central govt since they have to come up with policies that facilitate large-scale investments for city-urban transport with trains. Though bangalore had been seeking commuter rail & mass transits from a long time, the central govt had been (& still is) paying only lip service & this is what has led to enormous increase in road traffic.

skumaras's picture

Clarification on my views on privatization of city bus services

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@Murali,

I had mentioned in my comment that generally I am a supporter of privatization and I believe that the government should exit out of the business of making soaps and bread or running hotels and airlines. However I also realize that privatization cannot work without a strong and impartial regulator, which currently is absent in the transport sector in India. How else do you explain the pathetic state of auto rickshaw service in Bangalore? How do you ensure that the same anarchy will not happen in the case of privatized city bus services? You have not addressed that question I had raised in my previous comment.

I am all for a level plating field for the private sector. However even if a level playing field is provided for city bus services, it may not end up being profitable for private operators. Even in most developed countries the city bus services are heavily subsidized. Even BMTC is able to sustain itself only through direct subsidies it receives in various forms and indirect forms of subsides such availability of cheap land that it can commercialize (or the freedom to paint its buses completely with advertisements).  If private players are allowed in this sector how do we provide them these subsidies in a equitable manner so that they can also fulfill some social obligations?

With the current state of governance in India and rampant corruption, I am not convinced that this is the right time to bring in private operators for city bus service, or doing that will solve our problems.


skumaras's picture

More thoughts on privatization of city bus services

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@Murali,

As you had pointed out privatization has really worked wonders in sectors such as airlines and telecommunications . I have been wondering why privatization has worked in these fields and why the common man doesn’t face the evils of corruption and general chaos when dealing with them. One reason I can think of, is that the players are generally large companies who have a reputation to guard. We usually don’t have fly by night operators out to make a quick buck in these sectors.

I guess in the case of city bus services also, if we put some restrictions which will allow only large companies with a minimum fleet size of at least a couple of hundred buses to operate, privatization may not create any additional chaos and might even work in cases such as luxury services. However I am still concerned about their financial viability for general services.


Naveen's picture

Ignorance is Bliss

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I wonder where we would have been if likewise we had been asking BSNL and Indian Airlines (or their then avatars) to improve 10 to 20 years back. demand facilitation of healthy competition. The conditions the private players are operating under today is stifling, to say the least

You have been quoting telephony & airlines as equivalent examples for city transport. Thus, you have been prescribing the conventional approach for the govt to just go ahead & issue licenses to operate private city public transport buses, claiming that "competition" will "improve" services, without considering the chaos that would ensue.

Your comments again denote that you have no understanding as to why city public transport differs from other sectors with social concerns that need addressing & the need to deviate from the simple process of issuing licenses when privatization of the same is sought. The authorities are also known to be routinely corrupt. What is to prevent them from unfair practices in issuing licenses & favoritism ?

You have even proposed that BMTC run social sectors & leave the others for private operators! It cannot be determined in advance as to which trip /routes earn money & which ones do not. Buses may run full at some time during a particular day, but might run near empty the next day, but the bus will still have to run even for the few passengers that use it. Such losses are made good during periods of rush or from operations along other routes & through other means of revenues - this way, the operator is able to provide services at subsidized rates everywhere & meet his operating expenses.

I had earlier asked you to quote examples of a large city from anywhere in the world where bus operations are privatized with multiple parties operating in mixed traffic (ie. non-BRT), but you had no answer. However, you continue to keep claiming that privatization will solve city transport problems without being able to explain how, & by throwing up wild, imaginary thoughts such as proposing the names of Tatas /Kingfisher /TVS for operating buses, when profits, if any are bound to be meagre, after meeting social obligations.

murali772's picture

oh! for some meaningful dialogue!

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@skumars (any connection with the saree brand? :))) )

Well, with you there can certainly be meanigful dialogue. And, here it goes:

Even BMTC is able to sustain itself only through direct subsidies it receives in various forms and indirect forms of subsides such availability of cheap land that it can commercialize

And, this is what they do with the land! They are just blowing up INNURM money, and, in addition, cluttering up the city landscape with horrendous edifices. And, ultimately, we the citizens will have to pay for it all, and in various ways!

The fact of the matter also is that if the actual cost of say the BIAL (including the actual market cost of the airport land and the land acquired for widening the road to it) is passed on to the air travellers, then the low-cost services will have to close down, and likewise with other services. So, the state plays the role of providing the infrastructure (preferably through PPP's and SPV's), facilitating the provision of the needed services by different players at affordable costs.

The state has the power to facilitate growth of, or even crush, any sector just by manipulating policy. For all the good that players like Airtel, Vodafone, etc have done for the growth of the economy, today they are all in deep trouble because of policies like this.

So, if you believe that things need to change, you need to ask for it, and if you ask loud enough, the state will take note, like what the S M Krishna government once did - check this. The biggest obstacle are the status-quoists, who just harp on the same old arguments, even as they talk of 'un-conventional' approaches.

or the freedom to paint its buses completely with advertisements

And, break the laws of the land!? - check this

If private players are allowed in this sector how do we provide them these subsidies in a equitable manner so that they can also fulfill some social obligations?

The inequitous treatment meted out to private players have already been listed here. The government can do many things to facilitate their providing an efficient, safe and cost effective service. To begin with, they could atleast be provided with a level playing field.

With the current state of governance in India and rampant corruption, I am not convinced that this is the right time to bring in private operators for city bus service, or doing that will solve our problems.

Even after many years of the telecom sector being opened out, we have had the biggest of scams there through the machinations of the minister Mr Raja. In spite of it the show goes on, and, with the Supreme Court taking note, hopefully, the perpetrators will be brought to book, and the damage contained. So, it has nothing to do with corruption.

I guess in the case of city bus services also, if we put some restrictions which will allow only large companies with a minimum fleet size of at least a couple of hundred buses to operate, privatization may not create any additional chaos and might even work in cases such as luxury services

Refreshing to know that there are people who can think different, rather than the types just claiming to do so. And, that's exactly what I have said in my opening post on this thread, and subsequently too. And, different versions of it here and here. The important thing is to do away with the state monopoly, and then things will fall in place.

Muralidhar Rao
skumaras's picture

Regarding commercialization of BMTC properties

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  @Murali

I had pointed out BMTC's commercialization of the real estate in their possession primarily to point out that a city bus service needs subsidies and even with a level playing field, a private player cannot survive without subsidies. BMTC may have done a bad job with the implementation of the TTMCs, but fundamentally I don’t think there is anything wrong with the principle of commercialization of their properties if it will finally help reduce the cost of travel for the common man.

The same is my view about the advertisements plastered on their buses. BMTC being a public sector undertaking, we should cut them some slack with respect to the rules (unless of course if it is going to impact safety) since their primary purpose is to serve the public and not enrich any shareholders.

 And with respect to corruption, even though the scale of corruption was huge in the telecom sector, the number of players involved was small and so there is a chance that justice may be delivered. However in the case of bus services there may be too many small players and the licensing itself may be handled by the regional RTOs, and we all know the state of affairs there, don't we!


Naveen's picture

Meaningful dialogue only when basics understood

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city bus service needs subsidies and even with a level playing field, a private player cannot survive without subsidies. BMTC may have done a bad job with the implementation of the TTMCs, but fundamentally I don’t think there is anything wrong with the principle of commercialization

Absolutely - couldn't agree with you more -- I won't be surprised if some here imagine that payment of such subsidies to private parties to meet obligations will work better ! Not in this country - it will only lead to further corruption, misuse & chaos on the roads.

there may be too many small players and the licensing itself may be handled by the regional RTOs, and we all know the state of affairs there

Again, very true. Too many unregulated players is bound to cause havoc. As of now, BMTC seems to be doing a fair job & engagment with them has brought about some desirable change.

So, if you believe that things need to change, you need to ask for it.....The important thing is to do away with the state monopoly, and then things will fall in place.

Some continue to harp & repeat the same old tunes for privatization of city bus services, imagining that everything will fall in place automatically ! It's clear now that such people do not wish to understand others' views & shy away when relevant queries are posed since they have no clue how to answer, & continue with the same old arguments. Thus, enagaging in dialogue with them is futile.

pathykv's picture

Last mile/KM

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@Naveen

"For last mile, autos are available, just like anywhere else. Minibuses are not being run through residential areas in any city since I think such local loops are usually unviable."

As the queen famously said- "If they do not have bread, why can't they eat cake?",speaking from Ivory Tower.

Basics have to be undrstood and the citizen/commuter is the best person who knows the ground realities rather than theoretitians.

If people can afford paying Rs.30 for auto instead of Rs.3 for bus, that too if at all the auto driver mercifully agrees to take the commuter for the short distance, they may use the auto or if they can afford chaffeur driven cars waiting for them at the bus stop they may use the same.

But 'Social Responsibility' of the Govt., Transport Dept., if not of the BMTC,is to provide affordable Public Transport for all including the majority lower income commuters.

Mini buses, as I have pointed out from personal experience, are doing roaring business in the neighbouring States charging very fair fares benefitting the commuters from nooks and corners of every Town and suburban areas, not only in Metros.

By Privatisation what is meant is parallel operation by private operators, that too in areas where BMTC is not willing to operate, for their own reasons. It does not mean replacing BMTC by private operators.

Hope 'basics' are understood a bit better.

K.V.Pathy

murali772's picture

the shackled infrastructure sector

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I think this is the same in all Indian cities since the road /traffic conditions do not allow schedules to be maintained. So, blaming BMTC for this seems out of place.

If the BMTC switched totally to direction oriented routing, like Big-10, Kendra Sarige, 500 series, etc, and deployed all their buses along these, as well as shuttle linkages to these, the frequencies during peak hours can be every three minutes or even better. In such a scenario, you don't need any time-tables. All you need to know are the timings of the first and last services. Besides, this will solve half the bussing problems in the city, the only hitch being that the commuters may have to change busses a few times more than presently. But, overall, the connectivity will become far better, and benefits thereof will be even more. Also, the number of routes will reduce drastically from the present 2000 odd to some two digit figure, ending a lot of the associated confusion too.

But, instead of furthering that, they appear to be stalling it (and, even adding to the 2000 odd routes), based on their fixed notions of commuter preferences, and, in the process, trying to serve each commuter door to door, but ending up satisfying no one.

Of course, the above proposal would require properly locationed and designed change-points across the city. The JNNURM funds could have been put good use had they been deployed that way. But, again, the BMTC and its political masters have other ideas, and end up putting up the TTMC's to serve all purposes other than those of the commuter.

a city bus service needs subsidies and even with a level playing field, a private player cannot survive without subsidies.

The Mangalore and Kochi operators have carried on for decades together even with the playing field steeply sloped against them (TVS had to pull out with wholesale nationalisation in Tamilnadu). And, all through, they have provided an efficient, reliable and affordable service, far better than the BMTC, the only common factor perhaps being the almost par score in matters of safety. Any unbiased observer of the scene will tell you. This is also substantiated by the findings in the study cited here. And, if given a level playing field, as also facilitated through proper policy initiatives, they can very easily meet the challenges of providing affordable services more than adequately. And, with the inevitable ushering in of congestion pricing, high parking fees, etc, in the cities, the TVS's, TATA's and even Kingfisher's will get drawn into providing the high-end services.

So, you don't have to look far for solutions. All you have to accept is that government service providers, like BMTC, even with their monopoly status, apart from having the playing field sloped steeply in their favour, can at best provide a mediocre service. And, that's not enough for today's world.

After the opening up, sectors like telecom, civil aviation, banking, insurance, etc are flourishing and taking the economy forward by leaps and bounds. But, with key infrastructure sectors like public transport, power distribution, water supply, etc remaining shackled in the vice-like grips of the government, they are proving to be the proverbial millstones around the neck of the economy. It is nobody's case that you can go about privatising these in a reckless fashion - you couldn't do that even with hotels. But, you can't wait for 'times to change' before you start asking the government to stick to its job of governing, and facilitating and regulating proper service provision, and doing a proper job of it, rather continuing as a dog in the manger.

the licensing itself may be handled by the regional RTOs

But, of course, that has to change. When a policy decision is taken, naturally, all these have to be part of it, unless all you are looking for is an eye-wash.

BMTC being a public sector undertaking, we should cut them some slack with respect to the rules (unless of course if it is going to impact safety) since their primary purpose is to serve the public and not enrich any shareholders.

So, you are advocating further sloping of the field for the benefit of the public sector. I thought the days of the public sector being viewed as commanding the heights of the economy are long over. Excepting a few rare exceptions, most have become plain burdens. BMTC too, the way it's being managed today, is headed the same way. Besides, here it's a safety issue. You can't have different norms for different players, whether public sector or private.  

And, as to the question of BMTC meeting the social needs, I suppose Mr Pathy has answered adequately.
 

Muralidhar Rao
Naveen's picture

Last Mile - Shared auto subject to demand

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But 'Social Responsibility' of the Govt., Transport Dept., if not of the BMTC,is to provide affordable Public Transport for all including the majority lower income commuters.

Nobody has denied this & I believe their endeavor is to do the same. However, they can provide services only where there is sufficient demand & there are enough no. of commuters. I have observed that some new shuttle services had been started in my neighbourhood, but due to lack of patrons, at least one service had to be stopped after running empty for months.

We praja members are not the only ones that need to be catered to. We can make suggestions for needs & BMTC has to weigh probably many more such requests & figure out the best way to cater collectively to all groups. When this is done, some groups may feel that their concerns are not being fully addressed since all possible demands might not be fully feasible to be met. Maybe your's is one such.

Mini buses, as I have pointed out from personal experience, are doing roaring business in the neighbouring States charging very fair fares benefitting the commuters from nooks and corners of every Town and suburban areas, not only in Metros.

Could you please provide specifics on where you have seen mini-bus services in non-metros & in metro cities, in addition to normal state-run buses ? I presume you are referring to non-metros in TN, which may have only private buses as public transport similar to Mangalore or Kochi. What are the names of the towns or cities that you are referring to ?

I have noted some private auto-tempos in parts of Chennai, but the service, being owned by individual drivers, operates only when there are sufficient no. of people, else the driver demands more than even normal auto fares. I have quoted my experiences in Annanagar & near Beach station on my last visit to chennai in above posts.

I had also seen similar services at Uthandi (East coat rd) about two years back, but there again, the driver operates only when he has sufficient numbers. Till then, everyone is kept waiting. The quality of these private transporters is also very low, & they were typically charging 5rs per head for short distances, subject to the tempo getting filled.

By Privatisation what is meant is parallel operation by private operators, that too in areas where BMTC is not willing to operate, for their own reasons. It does not mean replacing BMTC by private operators.

As I mentioned before in an earlier blog post, I don't think there is anything stopping autos in bangalore to confine themselves to select areas & operating in shared mode similar to the chennai tempos. Why they don't do it is probably due to lack of demand. If there is sufficient demand, they may do it here too - nothing is stopping them.

Hope your understanding of the basics is much better now as to why last mile problems are not being sorted out here in bangalore.

skumaras's picture

On quality of private city bus services

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 @Murali,

I agree with many of your points, but I am not sure about the quality of the private city bus services in other cities. From what I have seen about these services, my observation is that:

  1. They generally have less experienced drivers as compared to public sector enterprises
  2. They tend to race with each other to grab passengers
  3. They tend to overcrowd the buses; (but again I have seen BMTC Volvo buses also getting overcrowd, so it may be related to the incentives that the staff gets to fill up the buses and not just a private sector issue)

These are just my personal observation and I don’t have any studies to back it up.

I should also mention the BMTC Volvo services since we are on the topic of subsidies and this is a thread about the Volvo services.  Some people may argue that the Volvo service has been possible only through subsidies from JNNURM and other subsidies and I wouldn’t deny it. However it is indisputable that it is helping to a large extent in reducing the congestion in the IT corridors and from that perspective serves the common good. I think the Volvo service would not have been possible in the absence of a public sector organization like BMTC. The private sector is not usually bold enough to take up such initiatives because they need to worry about short term returns.

Finally I agree that once we create regulations to ensure that the private services can be operated safely and efficiently, and not create any more chaos in the streets or induce more corruption, we can allow them alongside the public sector services.


Naveen's picture

Improving bus operations - A way ahead

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once we create regulations to ensure that the private services can be operated safely and efficiently, and not create any more chaos in the streets or induce more corruption, we can allow them alongside the public sector services.

Very true. This was exactly what my apprehensions had been all along.

There is one other question - if two operators are allowed on the same routes /areas (be it public-private, private-private or public-public), they will end up wrestling on the streets for passengers, endangering road safety for themselves as also for all other vehicles in their battle for gaining advantage.

This problem can only be sorted out by allowing only a single operator on each route or area, with strict monitoring & enforcement. Thus, competition will have to be for the market rather than within the market.

In an earlier discussion here, I had proposed this with full details. It can be carried ahead, if we folks all agree. We could then take this up as a project, though with BMTC being so huge & winning many awards, they might be very reluctant in the beginning.

Thus, the proposal I had made was to include them in the effort & be made the 'regulators', holding a few key routes & all revenues for themselves, whilst leasing out their buses with staff to various parties in exchange for payments (they are leasing out buses to various parties even now, but it's on a small scale). This way, we might succeed & see a beginning.

I had also made suggestions for operator payments, basing it on actual km driven, maintaining punctuality & a small component for passenger volume - see above link.

pathykv's picture

I.mproving Bus Transport

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I agree with Naveen that a beginning has to be made. But not by BMTC, but by the Govt., outside BMTC.

There is no use having all apprehensions and post-poning indefinitely. I have seen in the neibouring State Public and private operators running side by side and compete in a healthy fashion

Naveen's picture

@Pathy - Which neighbouring states ?

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Mr Pathy

Mini buses, as I have pointed out from personal experience, are doing roaring business in the neighbouring States charging very fair fares benefitting the commuters from nooks and corners of every Town and suburban areas, not only in Metros.

I have seen in the neibouring State Public and private operators running side by side and compete in a healthy fashion

 

You have been regularly making statements such as the above, which are contradictory to what my observations are as also others, who are reporting rash behavior & sub-standard quality by private operators.

Since you claim "roaring business" with "state public & private operators running side by side & competing in a healthy fashion", & continue to evade queries about the names of these "neighbouring states, metros, town & suburban areas", I'm inclined to deduce that these are probably meaningless rants to enable you to continue to argue against BMTC since you seem to have some last mile problems for your home /office. Isn't this the fact ?

murali772's picture

let's get the right focus

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The need for constituting a regulatory body is a given. Nobody need re-discover that. Also, as to what kind of models we can have, there have been enough discussions already. But, without the government first accepting to open up the sector, all this talk is just a lot of hot air. And, very correctly as Mr Pathy has pointed out, it's the government that has to effect the requisite policy changes. And, since they refuse to do it on their own, they have to be forced into it - demand, campaign, e-petition, PIL, etc, etc.

since you seem to have some last mile problems for your home /office.

It's not just Mr Pathy's problem. My servant maid, my daughter (commuting between college and home), all have been talking about the same problem. And, it can very easily met, and profitably too, by efficient bus operations. All that the government needs to do is to create the right environment.

 

Muralidhar Rao
pathykv's picture

Last mile/KM

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Dear Mr. Naveen,

" I'm inclined to deduce that these are probably meaningless rants to enable you to continue to argue against BMTC since you seem to have some last mile problems for your home /office. Isn't this the fact ?"

Certainly not.

As Mr. Muralidhar has pointed out thousands of commuters like me are facing this problem and this has been confirmed by BMTC also during earlier discussions.

Regarding the experience in other States, I can quote umpteen examples with names if you give even a few of your experience (of course without ranting).

K.V.Pathy

 

Naveen's picture

Unsubstantiated arguments wont help change

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Mr Pathy

You now mention "umpteen examples" without naming any & are demanding that I quote my experiences though I have mentioned them multiple times on this thread in response to yr posts above here, here & also here, & in the past on other threads too.

I'm now convinced that you are merely arguing without any substance & I'm afraid you are not contributing to this dialogue in any way nor are you helping your own cause.

Unsubstantiated claims such as "roaring business" & "competing in a healthy fashion" sound hollow & meaningless - it will not help improve bus services here. It also does not help us as praja to come together & analyze collectively to move ahead & push authorities unitedly for improving things.

murali772's picture

meeting social obligations

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quotes on meeting social obligations

1) Buses may run full at some time during a particular day, but might run near empty the next day, but the bus will still have to run even for the few passengers that use it. Such losses are made good during periods of rush or from operations along other routes & through other means of revenues - this way, the operator is able to provide services at subsidized rates everywhere & meet his operating expenses.

2) However, they (BMTC) can provide services only where there is sufficient demand & there are enough no. of commuters. I have observed that some new shuttle services had been started in my neighbourhood, but due to lack of patrons, at least one service had to be stopped after running empty for months.


Readers can draw their own conclusions
 

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

surprising

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@skumars

However it is indisputable that it is helping to a large extent in reducing the congestion in the IT corridors and from that perspective serves the common good.

The upside of course is that to that extent the clutter caused by the exec's car/ bike is reduced - that's what I had already stated here

I think the Volvo service would not have been possible in the absence of a public sector organization like BMTC. The private sector is not usually bold enough to take up such initiatives because they need to worry about short term returns.

Which world are you living in, Sir? Today, on the contrary, Indian companies are buying over companies across the world, turning them around, and reaping profits.

Other points, I think, I have addressed adequately, already, elsewhere

Muralidhar Rao
Naveen's picture

Sure - conclusions can be drawn by readers

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Buses cannot be run on routes when demand remains very poor throughout the day (incldg peak hours) for months such as the shuttle route that I referred to or the Ho-ho routes that have now been cancelled.

At the same time, there will be certain routes where demand might be very poor during off-peak hours & acceptable or high in peak hours. In such cases, it can continue to be operated even though it might lose money overall since it provides the service for at least some sizable number of people.

I think this was amply clear from what I had mentioned.

However, it seems that some choose to intentionally misintrepet to justify their long-held positions & to continue with arguments & criticisim. This does not help in any way to rectify or improve bus services.

skumaras's picture

Volvo services were born out of subsidies

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skumaras>>>> I think the Volvo service would not have been possible in the absence of a public sector organization like BMTC. The private sector is not usually bold enough to take up such initiatives because they need to worry about short term returns.

murali>>>>Which world are you living in, Sir? Today, on the contrary, Indian companies are buying over companies across the world, turning them around, and reaping profits

Perhaps I should have been clearer when I made my earlier comment that the Volvo service would not have happened in the absence of BMTC. The Volvo service happened only because the JNNURM under the Ministry of Urban Development decided to do something about improving the traffic conditions in cities and provided substantial grants to undertakings like BMTC to purchase low floor buses. My understanding is that JNNURM funded about 85% of the cost of these buses costing about Rs 80 Lakhs each. Do you think some private sector operator would plunk in that sort of money with the hope that they could get the “execs” off their cars and bikes into the city buses just so that the traffic conditions and the air quality in the cities would improve?

There are a few examples of Indian companies having turned around other companies around the world, but those are in sectors where profits are there to be made and there are no social obligations to be fulfilled.

We have a fundamental disconnect. You believe that there are profits to be made from city bus services and that private operators would rush in if only the sector were open to them. I believe (based on my observations of city bus operations in India and also a couple of cities in Europe and the USA – the land of the capitalists) that city bus services cannot succeed without subsidies from the government. That is if they are required to provide a reasonable level of quality and not load people like cattle in a truck. As long as both of us cling to our beliefs we will go back and forth with the same arguments.


silkboard's picture

skumaras - they do it today

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JNNURM funding Volvos - don't know if the number is 85%. But about this point:

Do you think some private sector operator would plunk in that sort of money with the hope that ...

The inter city operators did that, isn't it, and they did so before KSRTC, right?.

However, actually, many people, excluding Murali, and I too am on the fence, agree with this point of yours:

City bus services cannot succeed without subsidies from the government

But, the thing is, there is no precedent to go by, no failure is on the record right now. It seems half ass privatization jobs in Mangalore, Kochi etc are keeping private players interest (I am going by Murali's words, haven't seen data/stat evidence from him yet). And even if a subsidy is required to make city bus operator viable, why not give this subsidy to a few private operators instead? Have you gone to any of these TTMCs, and seen the quality of construction there?

The likes of BMTC can never operate as efficiently as profit driven operators, there is NO POINT in arguing on this point, please. The arugment is more about whether it is worth to risk welfare aspect of PT by bringing in profit-driven operators. Private operators will prefer to serve high density areas, as they will be demand driven. Advantage of BMTC is that they can be demand generating.

How can we get the best of both - private sector efficiency, as well as welfare on mind? The answer is in regulation. Need a good regulator first, it could start by watching over BMTC/NWSRTC.KSRTC first. When it matures, it can allow new players.

A least in areas that BMTC itself considers to be non-viable, like sub-urban or local area shuttles, or the airport buses, it is worth to try the experiement. It can itself become the regulator, and ensure welfare angle is covered while slowly opening up city bus services in dense cities where lack of quality PT is REALLY HURTING right now.

murali772's picture

just get off the fence

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I am going by Murali's words, haven't seen data/stat evidence from him yet

hello, what about this? And, suggest you (and other fence-sitters, as also the BMTC apologists/ fans) read the blog and the report through and through

It (BMTC) can itself become the regulator

"and the proposal that STUs act as both operator and regulator presents serious issues of conflict of interest and moral hazard" - from the same report, linked above

A least in areas that BMTC itself considers to be non-viable, like sub-urban or local area shuttles, or the airport buses, it is worth to try the experiement.

So, just get off the fence, and take up the campaign for opening up of the sector. Leave the BMTC apologists/ fans be.
 

Muralidhar Rao
pathykv's picture

Parallel operation of PT.

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@Naveen

"I'm now convinced that you are merely arguing without any substance'"

Please stop such insinuations.

I have no time or patience to 'merely argue'.

I have given specific examples earlier and did not want to bore the readers by repeating them.

What you have quoted are only about  trying to take a ride on 'share auto' or tempo at Chennai which you seem to have mistaken for minibus.

Just to satisfy you I give one sample.

Thanjavur Distirct in Tamilnadu is full of hundreds of temples. There is a special circuit for 'Navagraha' temples. These are separated by a few KM from each other.

People who can afford hire a taxi and go round all the 9 centres in a day. But you can also use public transport run by private minibuses as well as regular State Transport buses. The minibuses take you right to the temple entrance

I did the circuit leisurely taking one diection each day from Kumbakonam by minibuses and covering 2 or 3 temples. You can alight at one temple, finish your worship and take another minibus to next temple.

Similarly minibuses are run inside the towns also to cover nooks and corners. And the fare is dead cheap (Rs. 5 per 8/9 KM). This without any subsidy from Govt. and indeed against competition from the State transport.

You can find such services in any major town in Tamilnadu like Madurai,Coimbatore, Trichy, Tenkasi etc., in fact even in rural areas.

I can multiply such examples.

Please note I am not an apologist for any sector, having worked in Public, Joint, Private sectors and also working on my own for more than five decades. What I am sharing is only from my experience (which may differ from yours or others) as a regular commuter for many decades, as distinct from second hand observations. What I am interested is efficient affordable service for all segments of commuters, from any sector, but I have found that Public sector alone cannot fit the bill.

Hope I am clear.

K.V.Pathy

skumaras's picture

Allow private sector - but regulate them properly

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>>> The inter city operators did that, isn't it, and they did so before KSRTC, right?.

That’s not an Apples to Apples comparison. The intercity operators run the Volvos only in high density routes where they are assured of good patronage even when they charge almost double their regular charges for the Volvo services. When I mentioned the BMTC Volvo services, I was specifically referring to city bus services where the economics are quite different.

>>>And even if a subsidy is required to make city bus operator viable, why not give this subsidy to a few private operators instead?

If the private operators operate using money provided by the government, will they have the required motivation to work efficiently? How do we ensure that the subsidies provided by the government do not end up in the pockets of the private owners?

I do agree with the rest of your post about the need to have a strong regulator. 

>>>>So, just get off the fence, and take up the campaign for opening up of the sector. Leave the BMTC apologists/ fans be.

I think you may have mistaken my position with respect to BMTC. I am not a fan of BMTC, and have posted several comments in the past in praja which are very critical of the way they operate. My comments in this thread were primarily about the suitability of the public sector vs private sector for city bus operations. It was not about one particular corporation.

I am a strong supporter of the private sector (I work in the private sector). I believe that during the past one decade it has played a pivotal role in the development of India. I just have my some reservations about whether the private sector can succeed in providing a service of high quality in the city bus sector, while still being profitable. My reservations are primarily after seeing how the private sector now operates in the city bus sector in a chaotic manner and how the authorities are unable or unwilling to do anything control them.

I have seen private mini-buses being operating in Bangalore on Hosur road and on Whitefield road. Many buses are in a poor condition and I wonder how they manage to get their fitness certificate. They are uncomfortable and stuffed with people and but they still are able to get passengers because they can undercut the BMTC in ticket prices. The private sector is able to achieve this because their costs are lower, and this is not necessarily because they are more efficient. The costs are lower because:

  1. They can use run down buses which shouldn’t even be allowed on the roads
  2. They can overload the vehicles beyond allowed capacity
  3. They can pay their drivers a pittance with no benefits, insurance, provident fund etc.

And alas there are lots of people in India who don’t care much about safety or comfort if they can save a few bucks. If a poorly maintained bus crashes because the brakes fail, they will just shrug it off and continue with their lives.

One can always argue that we can bring in proper regulation to control the private bus operators, but our record in effecting systemic changes to the system don’t make me very optimistic that we can pull it off. Let’s take the example of another sector like the auto rickshaw service. There have been so many discussions about the ills plaguing this sector, about the drivers not willing to take passengers to the desired destination, of over charging, of poor driving practices. But little has been achieved with respect to correcting any of this. Why do we feel that we can get drastically different results in the city bus sector

Anyway as I had clarified earlier I am all for opening up this sector once the proper regulations are in please. All I wish is that we  don't end up creating more chaos on our roads while attempting to fix the current problems.


Naveen's picture

Perfect@skumaras

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@skumaras,

I think our thoughts are identical & in sync with one another. It goes without saying that the private sector will bring in far better efficiencies, as SB mentions.

Could you please go through this post that I had made earlier & revert with your comments on it's viability ? I had considered all the possible problems that you mentioned as also others whilst preparing it.

silkboard's picture

So Murali, who is running one?

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You said:

So, just get off the fence, and take up the campaign for opening up of the sector. Leave the BMTC apologists/ fans be.

So who is running a campaign? What and where exactly do I have to join? By taunting myself and others as BMTC fans or apologists (which is a failry strong word), don't think you are wooing people towards a campaign that I know you would certainly start some day :)

Paint a picture, start a proposal, kick off a campaign, and people may join. If you are starting by writing

  • a report on "scope and role for regulator in public transport sector", or
  • a report on "City public transport can be a viable business, case study of Kochi/Mangalore",

.... you'd have good launch points. I am sure you have enough data for the reports (towards a business case), and more anecdotes than yelli idira.

Time to get deeper into this stuff.

silkboard's picture

Pathykv, see 500F one evening

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PAthy sir, regarding your comment:

This is only due to increase in demand which is not met by proportionate increase in ordinary bus services.  Hapless Commuters are forced to use Vajra buses as they cannot get into ordinary buses which burst at the seams.

I invite you one evening to stand at Kundalahalli gate. Watch ordinary 333E, or 500F at about 7 PM. And compare then to 500C/K or 333P. You will be surprised.

Like asj had said once. one has to seriously think what to make of a full A/c Vajra bus with people standing in it? Elitist thing (won't run shoulders with regular joes?), A/c and dust free is all I need (key need - cleanliness?), I like pooling drivers (Vajra is like a large carpool).

I don't know myself. But someone from MoUD, Delhi has to come see the cattle-class style 500C/K and 335E situation in the evenings at Whitefield and explain things, and perhaps understand that people can give up cars if you keep the roads as congested as Bangalore does :)

pathykv's picture

500C/K, 335E

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Dear Pranav,

"I invite you one evening to stand at Kundalahalli gate. Watch ordinary 333E, or 500F at about 7 PM. And compare then to 500C/K or 333P. You will be surprised".

Thank you for your invitation. However I cannot go there at that time just to see these buses. You may describe (with photos, if possible), what you see.

I guess what you intend to convey is - the a/c buses are full, but not the ordinary buses. I will be surprised if it is so.

On the whole what I notice all over the city is that the over-all demand for PT is going up due to many reasons out-stripping the capacity of services of all types provided. Hence all are getting over-crowded. But the laws do not apply to the public sector as they are exempted.

Also the JNNURM funds (which is nothing but tax payers money) are being misused to construct Malls in the name of TTMCs , not at all serving any purpose for which these funds are meant. If the funds are utilised to augment ordinary bus service and start minibus service the traffic will improve much more. The luxury buses can be run by a separate corporation without subsidy from JNNURM and from ordinary bus earnings.

K.V.Pathy

Vasanth's picture

SB , bang on point

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 We need all the flavours of buses needs to be in service. Today, without Vajras, traffic would have been a night mare.

We had a recent post about Vajras becoming Mumbai Locals. Only during non-peak hours, they will be less crowded.

I have seen people do not mind standing in A/C and dust free environment. Standing in ordinary buses is painful because of heat.

I have taken a Vajra Monthly pass. If I dirve the car daily it costs 200+ rupees and the pain of driving. Since I donot have a driver and I have to drive on my own, although putting A/C thoughout, I still feel sweated by the time I reach office along with the pain of penetratring through traffic.It takes somes settling time in the office. On the other hand, if I travel by Volvos, timing is 20 mins more, I get down fresh in front of office reading a news paper on the way. Temporarily they had even started coffee and breakfast service, but they stopped saying bus will get spoiled. If we get friends on the bus, we never know how we passed through such terriffic traffic especially during rainy days. Office shuttles are good, but, timing is the major problem especially for family men and women. If vajras were not to be there, driving down with frustation would have been the only way out.

Sanjeev's picture

Delhi METRO is not different from our cattle-class style 500C/K

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Recently travelled on Delhi METRO to get travell experience  compared to Roads  at Capital of India.

Good thing was travell time compared to road was very less & Fares are reasonable.  Movement within the stations was not an issue.

Following things will tell you or BMTC Volvos are of no comparision to DELHI METRO :

1. On 6th Sept, when Travelled on METRO at 8:30 am,   Trains were running 150% of the design capacity. People are pushed into the Coaches, no place to stand inside. Driver of the Train came to PUSH the Passanger so that doors could close.  Passengers are just treated worst then  what we see BMTC.

2.  A/C effect was not at all felt,  complet sweating due to high humidity. 

3.  Only 10% of the people can sit (  few seats provide )

3. Their is no last mile connectivity at most of the stations, even though DMRC claims it has.

4. When it comes to crossing UP boarder at some places like Noida,  you need to walk   1 Kms  to get the Auto and their is no Taxis  to catch. Autos & DTC buses standing next to station will not be use as they can not enter UP state, so need to walk.

5. During Peak hrs 8Am to 10 Am, & same thing in the evening 5Pm to 8PM,  elders / ladies childerns can not travell and even small baggage can not be taken due to mad crowd.

End effect was Travelling by Taxi from Hotel to Business place  would have taken less time and more comfort with sitting and trying glance the emails or news paper.

When we talk about BMTC Volvo buses, I feel their service level is far far better compared to other places and other modes of Transport

 

murali772's picture

this is your social obligation

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@SB
You had labelled yourself as a 'fence-sitter'. The other epithets were not meant for you. Those were specifically reserved for the types who find any criticism of their favourite BMTC a rant, even when made by the likes of Mr Pathy, who undoubtedly is the one best qualified to talk about bus services.

So who is running a campaign? What and where exactly do I have to join?

So, you haven't seen this?

By taunting myself and others, don't think you are wooing people towards a campaign that I know you would certainly start some day :)

Well, nobody need do it for my sake. There was this talk about meeting 'social obligations'. The biggest contribution any one can make in this regard is to campaign for far greater efficiencies than at present in the key infrastructure areas of public bus transport services, power distribution, and water supply, since the lack of it affects the poor the maximum (you and I can buy our ways out of these problems - but, even there, there are limits). And, to achieve that, we can't allow the status quo to prevail. And, the change has to happen now.

As far as bus services in the city are concerned, what you have today is a lousy (well, at best mediocre) service, provided by a monopoly government service provider, which can't meet the needs of the city, and which in turn is resulting in a hundred other problems. There's an immediate need to open up the sector to private players - period! Once that's accepted, the rest follows. You can't wait for the most perfect of regulations to be put in place before the opening up. Even in the other sectors, all of that happened simultaneously, and, as the stake-holders gained experience, the regulations went on getting evolved. And, it's a continuous process. If the government announces the opening up, CiSTUP can perhaps write out a regulatory framework within a week, at the most - that's all there's to it.


@Skumars
When we talk of city bus services, you bring in talk of 'auto's' (the earlier mention) - then, it's apple to apple for you. But, when city and inter -city comparisons are made, then it's not apple to apple! If you want to argue against a point, you can find a hundred different ways, right? Besides, how much of an apple to apple scene is it when the private players have to operate with their hands almost literally tied behind their backs, as compared to the BMTC and even KSRTC who enjoy all the privileges? Put them all on a level field (at least a little less sloping), and you'll see the difference. Actually, even the inter-city private operations are not totally legal, and that's why you are not finding the real big players coming on inspite of the huge opportunity. But, the situation is apparently a bit better than in the case of city services, and that's how you have players like VTR, who are perhaps the first to introduce the multi-axle VOLVO bus services.

 

Muralidhar Rao
skumaras's picture

On apples to apples

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@murali

But, when city and inter -city comparisons are made, then it's not apple to apple! 

The reason I didn't want to compare city and inter-city buses was because of concerns of viability. The city bus service providers need to run during off peak hours when there are only a few passengers. They also have to run the reverse commute schedule (or the return trip) when the bus will be practically empty. The long distance operators don't have this issue.

And the  reason I brought in a comparison to the city auto rickshaws  was that the enforcers for the autos and the future private buses are the same - the city traffic police. If they would just crack their whip I am sure some order could be brought into the auto sector, but they haven't been able to do so. If the authorities takes the same approach to the future private city bus operators, that they take with the auto rickshaws, we will have a difficult situation in hand.

If you want to argue against a point, you can find a hundred different ways, right? 

The whole point of an online discussion forum is to argue for one's views isn't it :-)

But on a more  serious note, I will grant it that the private sector are doing a decent job with the inter-city operations. I am quite pleased with their services and I use their services regularly in preference to state RTCs and even the Indian railways. I will also agree that their safety record is quite decent and their buses are quite well maintained.

My issues are only with the illegal private short distance operators who operate shabby mini buses and Tata sumos, many of whom I see on the ORR and around Marathahalli.


silkboard's picture

Thanks Murali, Vasanth

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Vasanth, noted.

Murali, yes yes, noted. Read fence-sitter as online-only :) We need o farm out a project, it is time. Let me dig out that Koramangala shuttle business case CD I had borrowed from you/Vijayan.

And @pathy sir, @Vasanth as well, the rise in ridership of 500C/K (which I suspect has lead to Vajra break even) is - I am guessing - mainly due to flyover works active on Outer Ring Road. Driving is hellish these days during commute time. Once the ORR flyovers are done, Vajra crowd may thin out.

Too bad we don't enough data capture mechanisms in place. If we did, then this would have been a perfect case study to show how flyovers kill PT, and how road congestion promotes PT :)

335E crowd, too I suspect, though I haven't observed this route closely enough, is due to the kilometer long jam that happens over the 6 lane railway overbridge before Kundalahalli. How odd isn't it. When it was a 3 lane simple overbridge, it took 10 minutes to cross it, but the line looked longer. Now it is 6 lanes, and still takes 10 minutes to cross it, just that the queue looks shorter :)

skumaras's picture

On Naveen's earlier proposal

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Could you please go through this post that I had made earlier & revert with your comments on it's viability ? I had considered all the possible problems that you mentioned as also others whilst preparing it.

@Naveen,

I missed that thread though I normally follow most threads related to BMTC in Praja. It took me a while to go through all of the posts in that thread and digest the details. It appears that people have thoroughly debated all of the pros and cons of the various options and I really do not have much more to add. However since you had asked my comments, here goes...

Your idea of avoiding unwanted competition and the associated issues, by allowing only one operator in a sector has its merits. The idea of local shuttles looks like a good starting point. However one issue I can find is that the private sector works efficiently mostly when there is competition. In the absence of competition, they may become complacent after getting the license. We may need to have tough regulation and stiff penalties to ensure that they provide the services at the desired level of quality.

Also, I would have preferred an independent regulator rather than have BMTC as a regulator. If I look at parallels in other industries, that would be like having BSNL regulate the telecom sector, or Air India regulate the airline industry.

However since we need to humor BMTC to get things moving, one option is to split BMTC into two organizations, a high level planning organization which doesn't own or operate any buses, and another one which owns the buses and operates them. The first entity can be in charge of regulation and the second one can be one of the operators along with many other private sector operators.


Naveen's picture

Urban Bus Transport & Deregulation

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Excerpts from an ILO paper on privatization of public utilities & services that makes interesting reading - relevant sections pertaining to urban bus transport are reproduced below.

Pg.12:

The urban transport system in developing countries is an “institutional
orphan”
. Institutional inadequacies have hampered all serious attempts to provide for the orderly and planned growth of urban transport. A multiplicity of authorities handle different aspects of urban transport – and generally there is a lack of coordination amongst these authorities.

--- Very true of Bangalore & all Indian cities.

In industrialized countries, the late twentieth-century city was the product of a
set of policies established in the 1950s. These were based, consciously or
unconsciously, on an assumption that “everyone would have a car” and that the right to use a car was sacrosanct.
The dispersal of jobs, retailing and other commercial activities has created an urban structure which is difficult to serve by public transport, reinforcing the trend of the car. The efforts of public urban transport companies in industrialized countries to win over private car-users have been thwarted by the fact that there is a wide network of roads and abundant parking spaces in city centres – often free or almost free of charge. This, in turn, has discouraged the use of public transport, leading to losses in revenue and cuts in services. The consequent traffic congestion has made bus services even less attractive and more costly to operate, accelerating the cycle of decline further. The real cost of urban transport in most industrialized countries has, as a result, risen at a time when the direct cost of the car has been falling.

It is important to note that, in order to balance their books, public transport
companies all over the world generally receive subsidies from the national, regional and municipal authorities
. These subsidies are based on a percentage of total costs which, for underground railway lines for example, varies from 24 to 62 per cent. Secondly, staff costs in public transport companies now account for a very high percentage of overall costs, and the time when these companies were key economic and social factors is now surely at an end.

Pg.44

Throughout Latin America, a large percentage of urban bus services are run by what are known as “route associations”, i.e. groups of individual bus owners who join together to operate one or more routes. Such associations are often only very loosely integrated. The individual owners retain a great deal of independence, and give correspondingly little control to the association itself. This creates a series of difficulties, one of which is the negative effect on traffic safety caused by races between buses on the same route to be first to the next stop. However, in Buenos Aires these problems have effectively been solved because bus services are provided by route associations of independent mini and midibus owners and operators, known as “colectivo”, under the general direction of the national transport authority, Comision Nacional de Transport Automotor (CNTA), which was established in 1995. The CNTA is controlled by three bodies – National Transport Department, Province of Buenos Aires and suburban municipalities. “Colectivo” minibuses (more properly described as medium-sized), operating scheduled services, account for 80 per cent of all public transport trips. Increasing competition from taxis and illegal minibuses and owner-operated old coaches has eroded patronage of scheduled services. Much business has also been lost to the suburban railways, whose services were much improved following privatization.

Pg.72

As for urban transport, the EU Common Transport Policy (CTP) aims to
promote efficient and sustainable transport systems that meet the needs of both people and business. The liberalization of the EU’s transport sector with a view to creating an open and competitive market has been embedded in a legislative framework which seeks to provide the conditions which will ensure the availability of affordable transport services for all EU citizens. In the absence of an appropriate regulatory framework, liberalization of services could result, firstly, in the underprovision of services to less densely populated or rural regions and, secondly, in the establishment of a system of preferences between transport modes which is inefficient and unsustainable over the long term.

An important consideration is to ensure that the CTP creates frameworks that
enable the maintenance of transport services, which are less profitable in purely financial terms, but have a high socio-economic value.
Where transport services are unable to recover operating costs, at least in the short term, public service contracts may be necessary for regional development or social reasons. Accessible and affordable public passenger transport is essential for the full participation in society, both for work and leisure, of the many people who do not have access to private cars. The promotion of public transport and non-motorized forms of transport (cycling and walking) also brings environmental benefits which may benefit low-income groups because they depend on these forms of transport for mobility and because they are more likely to live in city centres, near busy roads and therefore suffer the consequences of air and noise pollution, and accidents. As regards local and regional public transport, the EU Commission seeks to gain acceptance for the principles of competition over those of public service, or at the very least to establish a fresh balance between them. The European Commissioner for Transport, in July 2000, proposed new rules for “regulated competition” in public transport, as a middle way between full liberalization and the closed market.

For urban transport in general, there is little doubt that deregulation has had some negative results. For example, it has failed as a method of reducing reliance on the private car. Fares have increased, ridership has declined. This observation has been made in Chile, Santiago and the United Kingdom. The newly published report on the United Kingdom, Any more fares? – Delivering better bus services, revealed that since bus services outside the capital were deregulated in the mid-1980s, bus travel has fallen by 34 per cent. In South Yorkshire buses have lost two-thirds of their passengers as people have changed to car travel. Interestingly, however, over the same period bus travel has grown by 13 per cent in London. The report further alleged that the Government had abandoned plans to increase bus travel across the country and was allowing provincial services to decline.

Many of the ills of public transport in the cities of Latin America can be
attributed to excessive or misguided regulation. Urban bus regulation in the region has been plagued by a perceived need on the part of the authorities to, first, protect bus operators from “cut-throat” competition; and second, to protect passengers from the potential effects of self-interested bus owners who do not have to fear that mistreated travellers might switch to another operator’s buses, which the government does not allow to operate. Good regulation requires good inspectors, together with an adequate supply of them. It also requires good route-planning procedures as well as sensible fare setting: low fares breed low-quality services. However, the main regulating agency for urban transport is more often municipal than national or provincial.

Source

murali772's picture

no humoring, please!

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@Skumars
However since we need to humor BMTC to get things moving

I think that's where I believe we have been going wrong. If they can't deliver, they can't continue as a monopoly.

And as for apples, they can be Kashmir, Himachal, or Australia. And, according to climatic and soil conditions, the taste can be different:))). Likewise with city bus services.

Also, since you certainly are making very valid contributions to the debate, perhaps the debate here should also interest you.
 

Muralidhar Rao
Naveen's picture

Bus leasing out

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city bus services cannot succeed without subsidies from the government. That is if they are required to provide a reasonable level of quality and not load people like cattle in a truck.

Couldn't agree more - if subsidies are removed, we are bound to have sub-standard services like the unregulated minbuses /vans /tempos /autos, etc. In the paper quoted above, ILO concurs & even Europen union has acknowledged the need for this for city urban transport.

 

In the absence of competition, they may become complacent after getting the license. We may need to have tough regulation and stiff penalties to ensure that they provide the services at the desired level of quality

If multiple parties are allowed on same routes, they will race one another for sure. This is a worldwide phenomenon that cannot be wished away (an example has been quoted above as well). It does not really matter to commuters as to which company bus they use. Most commuters will opt for the first one that arrives. So, competition with unrestricted, multiple buses is mostly to "move" faster in the same traffic conditions to capture more waiting commuters, rather than driving safely or providing comfort & this is what makes the competition unsafe & risky.

I agree with tough regulation /stiff penalties, but if compensations are based on multiple criteria that depends on how much they drive, how many passengers they carry & on how well they maintain schedules, then with the threat of disqualification if they do not meet these criteria & reduced income, they will be forced to meet the pre-determined conditions in their pursuit for higher earnings with no danger of racing one another on the streets (since they will enjoy monopoly for a certain period in their zone). Their focus will thus shift entirely to meeting these criteria, which can be monitored through GPS & automated tkt sales machines.

 

I would have preferred an independent regulator rather than have BMTC as a regulator. If I look at parallels in other industries, that would be like having BSNL regulate the telecom sector, or Air India regulate the airline industry.

Well, in the model that I proposed - BMTC with it's experience would continue to own all buses & would only be engaging 'franchisees' or 'tendering' /'leasing' out their buses to operate in various zones to improve performance (this is similar to the London bus privatization experience, which has been satisfactory).

The 'franchisee' can choose to amend or modify route/s in his zone for maximizing revenues. Since the co. will earn more if they carry more people, they would obviously try to identify & operate buses in the best possible way to collect maximum commuters without the risk of others invading their turf. Since they would lose business if others invade their zone, they will be forced to keep a look out & will also help to police & weed out illegal operators.

This should also be acceptable to BMTC since they will continue as regulators & their employees will not have to go through the prospect of uncertainties in employment.

 

one option is to split BMTC into two organizations, a high level planning organization which doesn't own or operate any buses, and another one which owns the buses and operates them. The first entity can be in charge of regulation and the second one can be one of the operators along with many other private sector operators.

Even this sounds okay.

ss87's picture

 When I 1st saw this message

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 When I 1st saw this message I thought this is most probably because of lack of the ordinary buses in the afternoon times when buses generally return to the depots and so people go by volvo-but I was proved wrong yesterday

At Mico layout bus stop as I was waiting for a Banashankari bus I just glanced over to opposite side-Volvo 500C was going towards ITPL having about 15-20 passengers-it was closely followed by a C-4(Kengeri to Kadugodi) ordinary service which also had only about 15 passengers-looks like people take volvo by choice and not by chance

 

As I got down at Jayanagar 5th block,on the opposite side was a 215BM volvo going to RBI layout again closely followed by a 215CA and  both buses having equal number of passengers-so it is people who are preferring volvo and arent being forced by BMTC to board volvo buses

silkboard's picture

absolutely, there is a real demand

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Absolutely ss87, don' go entirely by Mr Pathy's comments :) there is real demand for quality public transport services, people aren't beinf forced to using Vajras.

It is time to start doing some numbers to see if BMTC can viably move to an all Vajra (or similar equipment, good inviting buses) fleet. With Benz, and newer version of Marco Polo, plus talk of sourcing from a Chinese company, - with good competition, price of quality city buses may be coming down to the right levels.

Naveen/skumaras - we should perhaps take the de-regulation discussion to a separate blog post.

abidpqa's picture

Privatization unnecessary

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The inter city operators did that, isn't it, and they did so before KSRTC, right?.

Intercity operators are profitable by manipulation and anticompetitive policies. They have actively tried to disrupt the development of railways. I have heard, and believe, the private operators did not want the Konkan railway. If the Konkan railway does not exist, Mangalore Mumbai route will be very profitable!! Again they have tried to manipulate the laws. Why are only luxury services running in the intercity services in the private sector? Because they have somehow, prevented the low-cost buses to run in that route. There is need to double and even quadruple the railway lines. That do not happen because of the private bus operators in my opinion. Would the private operators allowed creation of metro in Bangalore?

Private operators in other sectors have also shown inability or unwillingness to follow the laws of the land. Example could be illegal methods used to collect the loans. Private sector does not make profits by efficiency, they do so by stifling the competition also, so they can pass on their inefficiency to customers. There is no harm in not allowing private operators even arbitrarily because they have failed their mandate in many instances of privatization.

 

murali772's picture

not just on the fence; but, inside a cage!

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@ abidpqa

Here's a comment from a regular bus user
"In this route, we need good private operators such as VRL, MRL etc.. to start their services too". For the full post, click here

But, I doubt all that's going to change your views, since perhaps you subscribe to this ideology - all the best then, and God bless!

Muralidhar Rao
silkboard's picture

@abidpqa

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To the point

Intercity operators are profitable by manipulation and anticompetitive policies. They have actively tried to disrupt the development of railways.

The answer lies in asking for de-regulation of railways itself. One snail-paced closed public monopoly can't be the argument to defend another :) Private Bus operators aren't the reason for pathetically poor speeds and coverage of railways in Karnataka!

abidpqa's picture

Privatization unnecessary cntd.

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Thanks for replies. Private operators are the best, when they have principles and follow the law, and of course let the government make laws and implement them. I think today's bus operators behavior now and in the past have left lot to be desired. Their behavior is to use a bad word ... oligopolist. It may not be their fault alone. Taking the case of overspeeding, Police may think street competition is not a serious problem. Politicians may think cadres are having fun by overspeeding. Customers want to reach their destination faster, etc. That is everybody selectively ignores the negatives about rash driving and other dangerous practices discussed.

I agree that there have been improvement in all areas in Murali's link, but that cannot be extrapolated. There need not be gain in efficiency or improvement in service with privatization in every situation. If there is no advantage in privatization, why privatize. These private players will only operate in profitable areas and abandon others and harass other stakeholders.

 

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