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Enough of Volvos - Use JnNURM Fund Rs.14,883 crores for sustainable, affordable transport facility

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Public Transport

/JnNURM funds for providing sustainable, economical and comfortable public transport have been used for construction of huge multi-storeyed buildings in the name of Traffic and Transport Management Centers/

/GPS/GIS systems installed are either not working or are found to be wasteful expenditure/

/Commuters wait in shelter-less bus stands in extensions and mofussil buses are not comfortable/

Union Budget 2013-14 has allocated Rs.14,883 crores under Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM) city modernisation scheme for purchase of 10,000 more buses for urban city transport.  This is a good investment but from the past experience, we find that JnNURM funds granted previously for procuring buses have been utilised mostly for purchase of hi-end loss making buses, for creating tangible immovable assets under the guise of providing Traffic and Transport Management Centers (TTMCs) through construction works and for earning income under "Other Incomes" than "Traffic Revenue" and for providing so called GPS/GIS real time information on arrival/depr of buses etc. 

Example: Karnataka Government has claimed that it has completely utilised the entire amount sanctioned under the first spell of JnNURM funding under the head - public transport.  But an efficiency-cum-performance evaluation of funds utilisation would reveal that the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (BMTC in Bengaluru and City Service of KSRTC in Mysore) has copiously indulged in utilising JnNURM funds for  construction of scores of Multi-storeyed TTMCs that appear like some of the posh malls/multiplexes in the city but with congested bus bays at the ground level.  Even portions of the ground floor area have been leased for Departmental Stores, hotels, bakeries, book stalls, petty shops, pay and use contracted toilets, etc., and KSRTC earns revenue through this real estate dealings under the head "Other Incomes".  No doubt some money has to be spent for creating infrastructure for Depots, Workshops, Administration etc., but spending public money for creating monstrous buildings that create carbon footprints that result in climate change, global warming etc., needs prudent fiscal investment decision.

Buses run on roads, not on upper floors.  Primary responsibility of monopolistic KSRTC urban/city transport system is to cater to the needs and requirements of commuting experience at affordable, sustainable, efficient and economical transport system to aam aadmi, who travels daily to reach his destinations and not for enjoying a 'picnic' at TTMCs or shopping at such mall-like infrastructure constructed with public money.   He continues to suffer in silence at shelter-less bus stops under the hot sun. 

Secondly, in the name of providing real time information about arrival and departure of city buses at bus stops through Geographical Positioning Information (GPS/GIS) systems, KSRTC has spent crores of rupees in fitting their fleet of city buses with sign boards and also in sheltered bus stops in extensions etc.  Even after more than six months, in Mysore city, majority of these scrolling sign boards inside the buses are not functioning properly or if functioning, the announcements are monotonously noisy and are being termed as nuisance by the travelling public;  the sign boards installed at some bus stops are only ornamental and are exposed to vagaries of weather and vandalism.  Buses are arriving and departing as usual and people continue to wait with patience and have started completely ignoring these unpredictable GIS sign boards. 

Bottom Line; Checks and Balances/terms and conditions for utilising JnNURM funds have to be tightened to ensure that the funds are utilised for purchase of commuter/disabled friendly buses for people and not for indulging in TTMC construction activities through which money can be siphoned off by compromising quality and quantity in civil works or spent for installing IT related unsuitable/useless gadgets. 

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath

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Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Karnataka's presentation has hidden many facts of losses

ಮೇಲೆ
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@ Sanjeev, thanks. 

A persual of the minutes at URL above clearly brings out how participants from Karnataka have sugar coated their presentation and how the OSD of the Ministry has advised other States to look up to emulate Karnataka experience.  None of the reps from Karnataka have talked about the loss-making Volvos and other hi-end buses that are running almost empty (except in some corridors), how TTMCs were/are lying vacant and how many crores have been spent on providing useless GPS/GIS systems only to outsource and spend the JnNURM tranche.  

What is the ground reality?  An efficiency-cum-performance audit or an inquiry into the utilisation aspect of JnNURM funds by KSRTC/BMTC as  socio-economic public utility organisations, would bring out the real truth.  Imprudent investment, absence of public consultation that resulted in KSRTC turning out to be a loss making corporator entity from the only profit making company in India, all due to, can we say, JnNURM funding?

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath.

 

 

 

 

kbsyed61's picture

What's the issue? JnNURM Funds or its utilization?

ಮೇಲೆ
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VM avare,

First of all the notion of profit in provisioning of public transport is flawed and nowhere in the world it is profitable. The revenue collection through charging fares will not even cover the operations cost itself. I am not sure if even the Non-Ticket revenue would make nay difference. But its contribution is seen in indirect ways. In domains like PT systems, all constituents/routes will not earn same revenue. Therefore expecting Volvos to make more money is flawed. But in BMTC/KSRTC context I would agree with you on their ways are meant not for public.

Volvos, TTMCs are not at all bad ideas. If BMTC/KSRTC had designed and operated well, it would have certainly helped the daily commuters. Cities like Bangalore definitely needs TTMC for interchange of transit modes but not the way they have been built. Some blame also goes to citizen's like us for not taking up this with authorities.

Regarding Volvos, I would certainly say the regular buses which are nothing but tin box is insult to even poor people who are 100% dependent on them. Problem is there is no in-between models suited for PT buses. None of the 2 big private players Tata and Leyland has come out with a decent vehicles meant for PT bus service that is economical comfortable and fuel efficient. I am yet to see any R&D in this area. The vehicles they build are meant for goods transportation.

It is another matter that ordinary people like you and me are treated like goods by our babus, politicians etc. :):).

 

 

xs400's picture

JnNURM funds Volvo Ltd and associated lobbyists

ಮೇಲೆ
116 users have liked.

The System is in a dilemma: A substantial amount of money has become available to address certain public issues; how to divert this to System Approved projects by appearing to fund solutions to the said public issues.

Solution:

1. Fund luxury buses at extortbitant prices; this will reduce number actual transport vehicles

2. Run these 'luxury buses' empty and at times of least demand

3. Subcontract them to favored institutions at below cost to transport people who already have their own transport

4.Build unusable structures

5. ...

 VM and KBS have hit the nail on the head as usual.

We need a new yardstick to measure the value from every rupee spent. "Profit" is a statistic that hides a number of issues, I would recommend Praja to develop a "Paisa Vasool" measurment algorithm.

Vasanth's picture

Volvos in Bangalore is a success .. Not empty

ಮೇಲೆ
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Volvos in Bangalore is a major success. Look at the fares, almost in the average of 40+ and almost 75 end to end. Despite of paying so much price, buses are so crowded and people have to travel with struggle. One of the key reason is due to leasing the buses to private companies like ORRCA, BTP etc.

If Volvos weren't there, if I miss my office shuttle, I had to drive down all the way which is so expensive. Now I can take a Volvo from the same bus stop.

It is the routes, the frequencies and the timings are optimized and above all fare, it would be very nice for a commuter. Quality of ordinary buses also improved by adopting few features of Volvos in the design.

My personal experience is Ordinary buses are good if the traffic is moving and the wind is continously coming from the windows, mostly the scenario in tier two cities like Mysore, but not in Bangalore where traffic jams are quiet frequent. 

We sweat like anything and by the time we reach destination, freshness will not at all be there. To call people to come out of cars and start using buses, with ordinary buses, it is not possible.One can personally experience this by taking both a Volvo and Ordinary 500D and pass through K R Puram Junction. It stinks. 

Any technology or infrastructure, how well the corporation uses,  it all depends on that.  Standards that Volvos has got is the benchmark for any bus and that's how the city buses in most of the European countries run. 

I would say, we need both ordinary and Volvo or Any equivalent(Benz,Scania) buses. Many parts of Bangalore is still not well connected by such service which needs to be done. 

 

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Want proof of failure/loss? An RTI appln to KSRTC will prove.

ಮೇಲೆ
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According to Indian standards, Volvos are not benchmarks.  Commuting by such hi-end buses depends upon the economic condition of commuters.  Paying Rs.40 to Rs.70 is a luxury for most commuters who do not possess two or four wheelers as alternate mode of transport.  

My survey of route No.96/96A volvos (about 10 A/C buses) revealed that people would not get into these hi-end buses even if all the seats are empty. They wait for the ordinary buses to arrive and travel in them even if they are crowded and stink because the fellow passengers are also human beings.  

Just because some people stink more and some people stink less, KSRTC should not distinguish between them because it has a social responsibility as a public sector service provider. 

If anybody wants proof, please call up KSRTC and enquire or ask conductors/drivers of hi-end buses (other than Electronic City routes) or even better send an RTI appln. for complete picture.

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

More on Volvos in Praja post

ಮೇಲೆ
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Worth having a glance:

http://praja.in/en/~bangalore/discuss/forums/2009/05/fake-volvo

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath

 

abidpqa's picture

One of the reasons for

ಮೇಲೆ
125 users have liked.

One of the reasons for shifting engine to the back is driver comfort.  Now, almost 10 people sitting in the back are over the engine.  Corona design better takes care of passenger comfort.

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

First the time factor - then comfort

ಮೇಲೆ
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We commute because we want to reach a place within the shortest time even if it is not very comfortable in a crowded BMTC bus.  We are not going for a picnic to seek comfortable travel. The ordinary bus commuters form the bulk of passengers and they are the bread and butter of KSRTC/BMTC revenue and Volvos are only Jam!.

My suggestion to BMTC is to run ordinary buses with few seats for senior citizens, ladies with kids etc., so that more space can be provided for standing passengers on certain short routes, say like Majestic to City Market, Malleswaram, Shivajinagar, Rajajinagar and from Shivajinagar to Ulsoor, Frazer Town, Cox Town, etc., and from City Market to Chamarajpet, Basavanagudi, Jayanagar IV Block etc.  Such buses may also be stationed near Namma Metro stations to clear the crowds.  A few of such buses may be marked 'ladies only'  to save them from certain inconveniences being experienced now.

Comments welcome.

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath.   

Naveen's picture

AC /non-AC on same bus possible?

ಮೇಲೆ
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Why has no one developed a bus which has one small air-conditioned section in the front & the rest non-a/c? Wonder what the challenges are, but if companies try to develop such buses, it would solve a lot of problems - frequency of AC & ordinary buses would improve drastically for sure since every bus may eventually have both a/c & non-a/c sections.

A/C (or 1st class) passengers will be paying more - & can be under direct control of the driver who can ensure fares are paid at entry (single smaller door). The other larger section can be controlled by a conductor.

Vasanth's picture

Everyone is unable to afford A/c buses,so travelling in ordinary

ಮೇಲೆ
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We commute because we want to reach a place within the shortest time even if it is not very comfortable in a crowded BMTC bus.  We are not going for a picnic to seek comfortable travel. 

Sir, if we would have travelled to Picnic, it is ok not to be comfortable. People travelling to offices needs to be in fresh condition, especially with respect to marketing, sales etc and spend nearly 9+ hours in the office  and have to be productive. That is why most of the new offices, although expensive, provide airconditioned buildings although it is too expensive for them, so are the modern day malls and shopping centres. Also, commutes in Bangalore is very long unlike tier 2 cities like Mysore. I travel  1.5 hours in the morning and 1.5 hours in the evening to and fro from office to home. Without comfort, travelling such long is unimaginable. One more thing is, Volvos are as faster as cars, so you don't have to feel sad that you are not in a car, compared to ordinary buses. Already travel is such longer, in the available free stretches if the bus is also slow, you feel irritated. We are not going for a party or picnic, we have to reach office ontime! Where we loose time is in bus stops and traffic jams with so many single occupancy cars, hence feel the needs for BRTS with level boarding for saving of time in bus stops as well as in traffic.

The ordinary bus commuters form the bulk of passengers and they are the bread and butter of KSRTC/BMTC revenue and Volvos are only Jam!.

Ordinary buses are the bread and butter since Jam is very expensive. People would love to have Jam, since it is expensive  and they cannot afford.

You run A/C buses with the price close to ordinary buses, why will not people take it?  

 

xs400's picture

Quantitative measure of utility of public services

ಮೇಲೆ
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I found myself agreeing to everyones opinion. The problem is that public money is being spent here.

If productivity is important then the private firms should not expect a handout from the public to make sure their employees arrive fresh. The business model should ensure that this is funded by their valuable customers!

Not to mention that our discounted prices (e.g. In IT) will help the customer fund luxury services to their public & employees at "reasonable" rates.

Lets not get sidetracked. 

The issue here is the public officials are diverting money elsewhere in the guise of providing services or luxury services - substandard services or no services ; this is a con!

This is the issue to be tackled. If we said : paisa vasool factor in bmtc is .004

Or volvo services PVF = .002 then we know we are not getting what the public put into the system.

xs400's picture

Quantitative measure of utility of public services

ಮೇಲೆ
121 users have liked.

I found myself agreeing to everyones opinion. The problem is that public money is being spent here.

If productivity is important then the private firms should not expect a handout from the public to make sure their employees arrive fresh. The business model should ensure that this is funded by their valuable customers!

Not to mention that our discounted prices (e.g. In IT) will help the customer fund luxury services to their public & employees at "reasonable" rates.

Lets not get sidetracked. 

The issue here is the public officials are diverting money elsewhere in the guise of providing services or luxury services - substandard services or no services ; this is a con!

This is the issue to be tackled. If we said : paisa vasool factor in bmtc is .004

Or volvo services PVF = .002 then we know we are not getting what the public put into the system.

Vasanth's picture

Companies are not expecting employees to arrive freshly...

ಮೇಲೆ
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Companies are not expecting their employees to arrive in a fresh way. It is the necessity of an employee. Again most of the companies have provided shuttles to the employees, but, employees cannot stick to those timings everyday. Hence some days they have to use public transport. Without this, we would see more cars and 2 wheelers. To get a ground reality, just check in any Volvo city bus of Bangalore and question the people travelling why don't you travel in an ordinary bus? Why would you spend so much and travel in a Volvo?

Not only this, any city needs a quality bus service, then only there can be modal shift from private to public transport.  And it has happened in Bangalore. Go to ITPL in peak hours and see the crowd waiting for 335Es and 500Cs. Thanks to Praja and BMTC's bus day campaigns too.

Problem is that BMTC is using its Volvos funded by JNNURMs to ORRCA, Manyata etc which is wrong and leaving normal public deprived of the service during peak hours which is totally wrong. This has to be done using a Private Party service like SRS or Satya Sai.

Not to mention that our discounted prices (e.g. In IT) will help the customer fund luxury services to their public & employees at "reasonable" rates.

Lets not get sidetracked. 

The issue here is the public officials are diverting money elsewhere in the guise of providing services or luxury services - substandard services or no services ; this is a con!

We are getting sidetracked by discussions like this. We don't pay hefty taxes for the luxury travel of our Netas, rather for better services for ourself.

xs400's picture

Any Solutions?

ಮೇಲೆ
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@Vasanth

I had to reread your comment many times because it seemed like you were disagreeing with the OP,  however you have only put it in a different manner.

Most company shuttles are not A/C, and an efficient and speedy normal public bus service would benefit all. This is what everyone here is saying including you and I do agree that Volvos have their place and should also be run efficlently to add to the public service.

What is going wrong here is that the BMTC is spending it dispropotionately on Volvos to ensure poor service at all levels.

OP:

/JnNURM funds for providing sustainable, economical and comfortable public transport have been used for construction of huge multi-storeyed buildings in the name of Traffic and Transport Management Centers/

Unless we correct BMTC's dysfunctional management we will never get good public transport. Note that BMTC officials do not use normal BMTC services but have special buses. So do most PSUs and even Infosys.

silkboard's picture

besides the buses, how about JNNURM's conditions?

ಮೇಲೆ
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Going by this pdf on JNNURM site (http://jnnurm.nic.in/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/booklet-on-transforming-City-Bus-Transport-in-India.pdf), the buses come with the attached strings of reforms.

Since the aim of the Central Government is to make its one time inputs to be carried forward on a sustainable basis, all of the Central assistance is  tied to following reforms in the field of urban transport. 
 
Are these being carried out? I think some are. Here is the list:
 
State level
i. Setting up of a city-level Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) for all one million plus cities, duly backed by a legislation to facilitate coordinated planning and implementation of projects relating to urban transport and their integrated management.
ii. Setting up of a Dedicated Urban Transport Fund at the State level
iii. Change in bye-laws and Master Plan of cities to integrate land-use and transport by densification along with the MRTs corridors and areas around the stations.
iv. Nominating a single department at the State level to deal with all urban transport issues as against different departments at present.
v. Setting up of a regulatory/ institutional mechanism to periodically revise fares of all public and intermediate public transport systems.
vi. The State government and ULB waiving off / reimbursing its taxes on urban buses & city bus service/BRTs.
 
And the city level list
 
Citv level
i. Setting up of a Dedicated Urban Transport Fund at the city-level.
ii. An advertisement policy which taps advertisement revenue on public transport intermediate public transport and public utilities for public purposes subject to relevant legislations.
iii. Parking policy wherein parking fee represents the true value of land of the land occupied which is used to make public transport more attractive banning of parking on arterial/ring roads, multi-level parking centres in the city centre with park-and-ride facility etc. 
iv. A well organized and efficient city bus system by using ITS through city specific SPV preferably on PPP, under well structured contracts.
v. Multimodal integration including urban railways (by involving MoR) to provide network-connectivity in the region and single ticketing to provide seamless travel.
vi. Setting up of a Traffic Information Management Control Centre for effective monitoring and enforcement of traffic as well as datageneration and data-collection for future planning.

 

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