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Urban Transportation reforms around the BMLTA concept

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Bus

In the telecom space, you have TRAI which is a national level regulatory body. Rightly so, since telecom networks have national footprint through interconnections, it need not be looked at as a state subject. Drawing a parallel for our state, think of extending BMLTA concept - a Karnataka state land transport authority (KSLTA). Why so? Because we want efficient two or three change connectivity from Whitefield to Haradanahalli as well, and not just to Jayanagar or Malleswaram. Just like the primary schools, every region needs good connectivity.

 

KSLTA can have circles defined for local transportation, just the way telecom world has circles that span 1 or more states. There could be a fixed number of operators in each circle. Some rolling stock operators could be allowed the equivalent of "STD", meaning they can offer inter-circle transportation as well, but there would be separate set of norms for long distance (inter circle) routes. The norms would look like this

  • Mandatory direct or indirect connectivity between hubs like Bangalore and remote and potentially non-profitable areas.
  • Not mixing the local and long distance loads
  • Adhering to price guidelines, there could be two - one for local and another for long haul commutes.
  • Guidelines on safety, operating conditions and quality of service (similar stuff as in UP govt's note about opening up its road transport sector)

"Roaming" should be a strict no no. Meaning, bus registered in one circle must operate in that circle. The inter-circle buses must do only long haul (inter-circle) business. So, a bus going from Bangalore to Kolar can't stop at HAL to pick up passengers for Marathahalli and Whitefield.

Inter state routes would require some more thinking, as there could be different sets of norms across states. A "reciprocal slot" approach could work here, basically on the lines of how international air routes are worked out. So, as an example, there would be equal number of bus trips originating and ending at Bangalore and Chennai (say 100 from Chennai, and 100 from Bangalore). But a Bangalore based operator could "lease" out its route to a Chennai operator (like how Air India does on many international routes today, it can't afford to operate, so gives them out to that country's carrier).

To summarize all of above:

  • In such a world, there wouldn't be a BMLTA, only a KSLTA. Why? Because you don't want to enhance public transportation only in Bangalore Metro Region, you need it everywhere. Its a basic, like primary education. Or else, you will be expanding Bangalore's boundary every 5 years, whereas, 'equal' development will create "peer" hubs around Bangalore without requiring special attentions and more B* bodies.
  • There would be operating circles. Bangalore Metro region could be one. Mangalore-Udupi region could be another. There will be some study required to carve out these circles. Can't have too many of them, nor too few.
  • Inter-state routes will be regulated as well, so that Karnataka based operators get eqaul share of any KA city's prosperity. Number of intestate routes could be driven by demand. But there must be some reciprocal arrangement.
  • Last, KSRTC, BMTC etc can choose to continue to exist. They can be given the first right of refusal in all KA circles. They could be given a fixed percentage on all interstate routes. And if they get their act together (they certainly can, look, they are so much better than many other state's operators), perhaps KSRTC/BMTC will exist and prosper like BSNL and MTNL!

How does it sound? If someone can do a Karnataka map with possible "local transportation" circles, that will add some cheese here.

Comments

navshot's picture

Transport, Telecom and general gyan

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While it would be great if transportation in India could be revolutionized like telecom, they are completely different stories with different challenges. The telecom revolution happened as the govt. saw an opportunity untapped - mobile phones. If you see telecom, India was way behind in tele-density and new technologies like GSM/CDMA were pretty much standardized. Once policies were formulated, it was more like plug and play, as we had no wireless system in place, so moving from zero to something of this was relatively smooth. It did not interfere existing system much (though it almost did dislodge fixed line). Now you are seeing the fun with fights between CDMA and GSM and also 3G spectrum allocation. I foresee the future of telecom in India won't be so smooth as it has been in the last decade.

Now compare this with transport. We already have cities and roads and transport networks in place (no matter how messy). Anything we do, would have to be retrofitted to the existing system. The requirements are very particular to the region - you can't pick something from Europe and plug it here. Its not easy. I'm not sure if many private guys are excited with this.

Comparisons aside, I think we need to think of integrating multi-mode transport at the state-level too... atleast road and rail (if not air).

-- navshot

-- navshot
murali772's picture

yes, we need a KSLTA

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I fully agree with you that what we need is a KSLTA, more than just a BMLTA. Ours is a very big state, and without the benefit of a good rail network, buses are the only means of transport for people living in the far corners.

Canara and Udipi districts (apart from a few others) are non-KSRTC monopoly areas. Though the private services are supposedly efficient here, they are notorious for their rash and negligent ways. As such, a regulation umbrella is very much a necessity.

With proper regulatory and good policing mechanisms (asking too much?) in place, the fare regulation can be dispensed with, in my opinion. Market forces should balance these out, and you will probably have a fare regime lower than that of the KSRTC's - that's the Hubli-Dharwar experience, anyway.

To be effectve, regulation should be minimal, but strict.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
silkboard's picture

Navshot - the physical footprint angle

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Navshot, I share some of your thoughts. There are two things about telecom infrastructure (especially wireless) and its success,

  1. Has an advantage that developing it requires limited physical or surface footprint. This means that day to day operations require limited touchpoints with public and government.
  2. Reforms coincided with technology leapfrogs (wireless over wireline).
  3. Everyone, rich or poor, enjoys cheap rates, and all get same quality of service.

Story may look different for transportation sector. But look carefully on all above counts:

  1. Roads etc exist. We are not asking private parties to build new roads or serious new physical immovable infrastructure. The ask is for efficient use of existing resources (road surface).
  2. There are process/integration leapfrogs involved if not technological. We are talking world class information infrastructure (GPS driven), integration between multiple modes of transport, demand driven dynamic routing, and some more we will know only after private parties get in. Government may have a good records on innovations in some of these, but not all.
  3. We are made to believe that poor deserve dirty and crowded buses, whereas middle class will only travel in Volvos. There is no data (that I have seen) that justifies such big gap between the two tiers of services. Surveys will prove that provided buses are clean, speedy and reliable, you don't need air conditioning or jazz to pull in the middle class. Ex: Mumbai.

Job of regulation and enforcement becomes lot easier when government deals with private parties. It is one thing to expect KSRTC and BMTC drivers to be responsible on the road, and it is another thing to cancel an operator's license if its busses meet with more than 5 accidents an year.

Transportation, rather connectivity is a basic piece of infrastructure. Its time to deregulate it.

The only argument that could go against these transportation reforms - is the angle of welfare/social service. One can argue that govt could be doing us a favor by providing transportation services at very low costs. But BMTC and KSRTC aren't exactly losing money. And once the sector is reformed and more players come in, the space will generate more money by increasing the usage. Instead of paying the oil companies, we would be paying Rao transport company and Menon roadways.

Politicians too have something in it for them. Instead of dealing with strikes and public complaints, they would be doling out licenses to transportation companies. That is a much more 'powerful-feeling' or 'profitable' (depending on how you see it, we know there are both types of leaders) activity to indulge in.

tsubba's picture

map

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will this do for the moment? the karnataka industrial helix. (karnataka udyoga mandala) important note: IMVHO, anything that is out of the spheres of influence or in their peripheries represents all that is holy and good in KA.things that 30rupees per liter or MIT professors cannot fix. to be minimally tampered with. incase anybody is wondering about the colours, well i was experimenting with gimp then and suvarna karnataka was the theme.
tsubba's picture

crucial difference

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there is a crucial difference between phones and transport. spillover of an uber liberal fone regime is a nagging in-law or a petulant acquaintance. but transport excesses spill over into the public domain both directly and indirectly. not everything can be sold like a tooth paste. you need transport planning, but something that has iron claws. KA would do very well for the entire nation if it takes a leaf or two out of Vermont's book.
silkboard's picture

Try getting a pre-paid SIM

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Tarle, uber liberal phone regime has a not so visible but serious spillover - internal security.

Tell me which of these two is easier job today. Bribing up to get a driving license or paying up to get a pre-paid SIM card without handing over a copy of your photo identity? I tried both recently, and getting (rather renewing) the license was easier :)

murali772's picture

easy, or not possible?

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Getting the SIM card was not easy, or not possible? I would like to believe it's the latter.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

excuse me!

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Menon and Rao would not want to doles from the politicians against 'other considerations'. We have to be selected on merit for the offer we are making. I was offered a license by a babu for operating 'contract carriage' service, when I had applied for a regular bus service in Koramangala. Since I knew the pitfalls in that, I did not pursue the matter. May be I should try out 'citzen journalism' exercise a la CNN-IBN.

And, SB, your statement "transportation, rather connectivity, is a basic piece of infrastructure - its time to deregulate it" has not come a day too early. This needs focused work if we are to liberate our rural folk from the clutches of economic deprivation.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
navshot's picture

Agree on KSLTA idea.

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SB,

I agree on benefits of privatization and regulation thereafter. What I was referring to was that we can't compare this with telecom. As far as private guys go, I'm not sure how many big guys would be interested in intra-city services.

Apart from these, how would we integrate railways with this? Would it be possible to bring IR/SWR under KSLTA? If we can't, again we'd be just tackling in bits and pieces.

-- navshot

-- navshot
blrsri's picture

kslta as acronymn

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kslta has been widely known as Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association..so we will need someother name !
silkboard's picture

London buses and privatization

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blrsri - how about Land Transport Regulatory Authority of Karnataka - LTRAK?

LTRAK and reforms is certainly not an easy subject. There probably is a difference between going the whole hog (dregulate and privatize), vs only privatize (outsource  bus operations). In this regard, London offers an interesting case study.

Read this - Privatization of London Bus services

And also read - Bus deregulation. Notice that "As opposed to in the rest of the United Kingdom, the bus services in London, although still ultimately privatised, were not deregulated to the same extent. In London, specification of routes, fares and services levels were still specified by public bodies, with the right to run the services contracted to private companies on a tendered basis." Also notice the bit about "bus wars" at the end of this. This is what we all fear, myself included - valid concerns (Tarle's point).

See this page for London Bus Operators.

Reason for not deregulating in London were supposedly political. Would be interesting to read bus service comparisons between London and rest of UK.

tsubba's picture

london buses

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SB, how are your reading this? need to get a more serious look, a quick summary: primary motivation seemed to be money saving for the state.(TfL) efficiency not automatic to privatization. dependent on additional infrastructure for buses (priority lanes, oxford) dependent on state imposed legislation (congestion tax, london) otherwise characterized mostly by negatives: falling ridership. unserviced routes. companies going belly-up. cartel forming/monopoly. bus wars. what are the take home positives?
silkboard's picture

Time for an update

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Read up a bit on London Bus Service's history. Time to think more on these lines, and I think alos to file a PIL to demand reforms in transportation structure as its hurting the state, and public, esp in Bangalore.


silkboard's picture

Transport regulator - start at state level?

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Wanted to bump this thread up, since we had talked about regulator here. A statewide regulator, and then carving out zones that will be "put up" for transport operators could be the way to start. Bangalore could have multiple zones (4 or 5).

Other way would be to open up inter city and intra city separately, possibly under separate regulators. But then you won't have the flexibility of mixing welfare (semi urban) and profitable (urban) areas when putting up zones for action.

silkboard's picture

blrsri, new name for KSLTA

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blrsri, since KSLTA is taken (by tennis guys), some alternatives:

  • Karnataka Rajya Parivahan Authority (KRPA)
  • Land Transportation Regulatory Authority of Karnakata (LTRA)

Lets do some digging, proposal writing, and serious lobbying. Need 4-5 guys who believe in pushing for this :)

Bheema.Upadhyaya's picture

How about Road Transport Authority of Karnataka?

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Does this name as further refinement of scope?

Would this organization control all modes of transport ? Would it have authority over all other modes too(like water, rail)? Would it be restricted to only transport of passengers(I mean not related to logistics movements)

I am trying to understand better. Anyone?

" My mantra to public bodies=> Enable->Educate->Enforce. Where does  DDC  fit?"
idontspam's picture

Has to include Rail

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 Would it have authority over all other modes too(like water, rail)?

Has to include Rail as well. When states can have their own bus service provider why dont they have a rail service provider as well? Buses also serve interstate, why isnt that national like IR? Double standards?

Naveen's picture

DULT is already in place

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A state level transport regulator is already in place - DULT. Surely, we do not need more  "regulators", who will all end up merely holding pieces of the pie. As it is, there are far too many with diluted powers, resulting in the lack of co-ordinated efforts.

As per the recommendations of The National Working Group on Urban Transport for the 11th Plan and the guidelines of the National Urban Transport Policy, the Government of Karnataka in its Government Order No. UDD 134 BMR 2006 (I) Bangalore. Dated 8.3.2007 has created the State Directorate of Urban Land Transport [DULT] under the Urban Development Department. The key objective of the DULT is to ensure integration and coordination of land-use planning and development of transport related infrastructure in urban areas.

The functions of DULT has been defined in the Government Order. DULT initially covers jurisdiction of seven Municipal Corporations in the State, viz., Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli-Dharwad, Belgaum, Gulbarga and Bellary. Accordingly, one of the key functions is to take up Comprehensive Traffic and Transportation Studies [CTTS] for six cities, excluding Bangalore. Thus the need for integrating land-use planning and transportation is seen as a major thrust and challenge for the DULT.

From BMLTA homepage

idontspam's picture

DULT -> MPC

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 A state level transport regulator is already in place - DULT

I was going to say that. And an MPC with statutory powers coming up...

Bheema.Upadhyaya's picture

Thanks

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If this is already in place, that sounds good. I am going through their website. It seems most of data was updated in 2008. So we need to get into more details. It seems they have channels like forums etc. Good links, thanks 

" My mantra to public bodies=> Enable->Educate->Enforce. Where does  DDC  fit?"
kbsyed61's picture

A presentation on this topic!

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Everybody,

Glad to see that there is a serious discussion taking place on this topic. Around early 2009, I had created a presentation on this very topic and posted on Praja.

http://praja.in/files/Road-Based-Public-Transport%20-v1.pdf

http://praja.in/en/~bangalore/blog/kbsyed61/2009/01/25/road-based-public-transport-system-de-congestion

I am sure you all will concur with the approach given in the presentation. A modified version was presented to BMTC, which resulted in Bus Day ritual.

-Syed

silkboard's picture

DULT - where? MPC - did not happen

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Reopening this one. Murali has been at these subjects for a long time. Back then, there was some talk and momentum for Metropolitan Planning Council/Commission, DULT was mentioned as a possible regulator for urban/local transportation needs.

As we all see - not much has moved, besides BMRC/Metro construction chugging along - on the local transportation front. There is a need to re-open this seriously.

The big question is this, and mainly because I think we have discussed this subject a lot already. What are your ideas for an advocacy projetc in this area?

May be, that this starts first with figuring out if people at large are 1) happy at large with local transportation options 2) are optimistic about it improving in future.

kbsyed61's picture

DULT - Accomplishments in last 3-4 years?

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Well, I don't think there is any less enthusiasm for better commute options. It is just that, in the zeal of portraying 'Namma Metro' as the biggest achievement, present govt and its machinery's has hardly done anything. In the melee, those who were active, interested are met with a wall that has stopped all proposals, ideas from even getting considered in govt corridors. This is certainly putting the concerned ones OFF and their movements losing steam.

If sources were to be believed, BMRCL has been an active stake holder in all such meetings and discussions. It seems BMRCL is becoming the veto power for furthering any plans or ideas getting materialized.

BMTC doesn't want to do anything different to increase its footprint and reach? This interview from present BMTC MD Anjum Pervez bares it all.

Having said that, it will be interesting to see how far DULT has succeeded in its mission since the earlier avatar was rechristened? What are its accomplishments in last 3-4 years?

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