Report on MOBILICITY unconference

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EnvironmentTrafficBusPublic TransportGovernance

The Transport Policy draft released by the GoK is not exactly very inspiring. What I would like to see in it has been covered more than adequately in this document, most of which I had prepared as long back as in '96.

The biggest stumbling block in the path of an efficient public bus transport system is the government's refusal to dismantle its monopoly regime; everything else is secondary. And, this is too critical an infrastructural area for it to remain constrained in the hands of a government monopoly operator. It very badly needs the managerial and technical capabilities of the organised private sector. If that much can be appreciated, then the entry of such players has to be facilitated through proper policy initiatives. And, that's what I have enunciated.

The GoK document had the following line which specifically attracted my attention - "Improving conditions for private transport". Now, is this what the 'signal-free corridors' project all about? While it may not be too bad an idea (though I have my personal reservations), unless the exercise is accompanied by usage deterrents for private vehicles like congestion tax, etc, it is only going to be adding to the clutter. There has to be a more holistic approach in such matters.

Reacting to comments by some members about the un-sustainability of the present approach to growth, Principal Sec (Transport), Mr Shankerlinge Gowda, seemed to suggest that cities can die if too many restrictions are imposed. Now, if he was referring to suggestions for imposition of congestion tax, it would perhaps interest him to know that cities like London, Paris, New York, etc are gaining in stature because of increased resort to such measures, and the businesses in the affected districts are doing increasingly better resulting out of the new 'life' in the city.

Besides, Singapore has long provided the most convincing example of how to manage life in a city without personal modes of transport. That is clearly the way forward for us, when we talk of sustainability.

Mr Bhaskar Rao, Commissioner for Transport and Road Safety, in his introductory remarks, openly admitted to his department being amongst the most non-performing components of the system. He then went to elaborate on how he was set to change it all. The fact of the matter is that he has been in the post long enough, and when he finally gears himself to take action, it will be time for him to be shifted elsewhere, leaving the same cycle to be repeated by the next incumbent. Whatever, even now, Mr Rao doesn't appear to be seized of the urgency to implement the HSRP (high security registration plates) scheme, which, considering its gravity, no less than the Supreme court had mandated, way back in May this year, for implementation within three months - check this. This even as the security scenario is becoming more and more challenging by the day.

The Adl CP, Traffic, Mr Praveen Sood, seemed to suggest that citizen participation had its limitations, in that the contradictory views eventually cancel themselves out. Later, during a one-to-one with me, however, he readily agreed that the debates on PRAJA were a lot different, in that the members were largely well-informed, and as such, it had a lot to contribute.

Mr Gaurav Gupta, MD, KSRTC & Chairman, DULT, emphasised the need for the co-ordinating agency, and empowering it adequately - what everyone has been saying from ages. Did I hear some talk of some bill being moved in the assembly to this effect, or something like that?

Mr Krishna Byre Gowda, MLA, talked about the constraints MLA's faced in concentrating on state policy issues, when they were required to play 'God' to their voters, particularly in the absence of the Corporators. Why have you and your party members been so ineffective in pushing for timely Corporation elections, Sir?

Mr Viswanath, the water & sustainability extert, Prof Ashwin Mahesh, contributed richly to the debate as they only can (though, I now don't quite recall all that they said). And, it was all moderated fantastically by V Ravichandar, with his characteristic touch of humour.

Subsequently, amongst others, I made presentations on "Role for Private Sector in Public Bus Transport Services", and " Traffic Marshalls" in smaller sessions. I will claim my presentations were well received.

I invited Mr Garg, IPS, Director, BMTC to my presentation on "Role for Private Sector in Public Bus Transport Services", and he very sportingly attended it. He couldn't take my criticism of BMTC's functioning for too long, and he intervened to say that the very people I was recommending for being invited to participate in the bus services sector (meaning TATAs), were not competent enough to do a proper job in their core area of bus manufacture, having badly defaulted on their delivery commitments to BMTC. The implication was that they can't be expected to perform well in this their non-core area.

Now, firstly, bus manufacture is a new area for TATAs. It is not quite a core area. In their core areas like steel, automobiles, telecom, chemicals, power, etc, they are amongst the leaders in the country (in steel, they figure amongst the best in the world). Considering their resources, both technical as well as managerial, bus manufacture (and bus services) is child's play for them. As such, if there have been problems with regard to their deliveries, the reasons have to be found elsewhere - my guess is political interventions in BMTC's decision-making - inevitable in a government undertaking, and thereby the need to insulate them, by privatisation. Well, it's not easy for anyone, including Mr Garg, to defend the indefensible.

There were quite a few other interesting and engaging presentations. I'll leave it to the others to report.

Muralidhar Rao


'Mobilicity' report on Citizen Matters

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When was this draft put together?

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Does anyone know when this draft was put together? I couldn't get an answer on the day of the event.

Everyone is asking the same question

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@Vaishnavi- :)

CiSTUP said they had it for 2.5 months

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 So it is at least two and half months old.

Reason for failure in delivery of buses - given by Tata to JNURM

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9. The representative of M/s. Tata Motors stated that even though the Ministry of

Urban Development had laid down broad Urban Bus Specifications, various STUs have

asked for different specifications which have insisted development of 16 prototypes. For

DTC 230 buses are already ready and all 1625 buses shall be supplied by March, 2010.

For APSRTC, UPSRTC and BMTC, the supplies have started. The deadline of

December, 2009 is not sufficient and need to be extended to January/February, 2010. He

further mentioned that in UPSRTC case, the buses are not being taken as they are not

multiplexed. They are providing multiplexing for all low floor buses, but would still

need time for providing multiplexing for semi low floor and standard buses of 900 mm

floor height. He further mentioned that 2000 chassis are in various stages of production

and multiplexing for them need not to be insisted upon. It can be done for balance

chassis but the additional cost will have to be paid by the STUs. He also requested if the

issue of penalty being imposed by STUs could be revisited.

Read the Minutes of the meeting here  Ironically the same was attended by none other than Garg. 16 different prototypes, this is when the bus specification was clearly mentioned by JNURM. Read more at Each STC read the spec and interpreted it in their own ways. Garg should understand that manufacturing a fully built bus is not easy as making Dosas at Darshinis, even that require a days preparation ;). clearly mentions the ITS requirements and reform requirements, to be fair few are already intiaited by BMTC and few are in planning stage/news for quite some time without any thing concrete ( Passenger Information System for eg:)


Draft Transport policy of GoK

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where is this document?

Mr Garg's offer, and the futility of the exercise

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When I stated that the government had turned down my application for a license to operate an Intra-Koramangala bus service, saying that it was the monopoly domain of BMTC, Mr Garg intervened to say that BMTC itself could take it up. The fact of the matter however is that BMTC had indeed done that, but, with their whole approach being just to prove it unviable, they did a quarter-hearted job, and in about a month, they formally declared it unviable, and closed it.

Now, before applying, I had done a fairly thorough study, and it showed up to be very much viable even with a fare regime well below the then BMTC one. It is only a matter of efficiency of operations.

BMTC is loosing heavily on the high-end (VOLVO) services, and can't ever hope to even break-even on them. The former MD, Mr Tripathy, was fairly candid that the only reason they were extending the VOLVO services to the BIAL was to pre-empt private operators getting a foot-hold in Bangalore.

The entire city, as such, is being held to ransom by BMTC. It is time the public demanded of the government the farming out of, to begin with, the feeder and high-end services to organised private players. Like I have already stated, their entry needs to be facilitated. With TATAs, this may be a route.

Muralidhar Rao

Not BMTC, we are allowing ourseleves to be!

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The entire city, as such, is being held to ransom by BMTC.

It is not the BMTC that is holding us by ransom. We ourselves are allowing BMTC to hold us to ransom. We lack the gut to confront the political powers who controls these public entities. As Shankara Byre Gowda said, transport is not the priority for him and all other politicians. That is a reality that manifests in the form of BMTC and KSRTC. Again and again we do not get tired voting for same politicians for whom civic amenities is not the highest priority. The truth is, his locality, his family's daily commute needs are taken care from yours and my tax money. In that given context he hardly has any time for your and my civic needs. Need is to change politicians who have no time for our needs.

Again let me say that privatization is just the small piece of bigger puzzle. It is a recipe for failure in absence of any comprehensive policy and regulation on urban PT system. Fact is, our govt doesn't have any clue to administer the public transportation in cities and states. The fix has to start from the top that defines the contours of PT system. Otherwise you could expect the repeat of Blue line service in Delhi.

I wish we could continue the Mobilicity journey by asking the powers to make a beginning in that direction. Beginning to force the govt moving in the direction of making the changes for better PT system in cities and towns.

Imagine instead of buying 2 wheelers and 4 wheelers to solve the problem ourselves, had we demanded better PT service, at least by now we would have some forward movement in that direction.



public transport is not just buses

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murali, your document dated 2007, that you refer to in your opening para, is really all about buses. public transport is nt just about buses. all the great cities of the world, are putting  design,  systems and money to implement massive pedestrianization and cycling plans . london, paris, newyork, amsterdam, curtuba,  are jst a few who in recent years have embarked on fantastic campaigs to reclaim public spaces by concentrating on pedestrian and cycling facilities.

while improving bus and train/metro is the right direction to take, this can only be maximized and truly serve a city, its people, its economy and environment if non-motorized transport is safe, efficient and comfortable and reaches every corner of a city. our streets have to be safe for the elderly, the children and be gender sensitive.  the quality of street life and public spaces are vital to a city's vitality and growth, but  the way our  public spaces in bangalore hve declined and even disapppeared, and the latest move by the bangalore's admin to charge for entry into cubbon prk and lalbaug is nothning sort of criminal. 

but first, we the people have to start thinking of public space , pedestrian space and cycling as "public transport". until then, our politicians and bureaucrats will continue to usurp our cities and spend public money on ambitios road and flyover projects.

read what prof badami had to say in yesterdays hindu

lightness of being

can't agree with you more, but

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Can't agree with you more when you say that "public transport is not just about buses alone". And, I agree my '97 document covers largely 'public bus transport services', which however forms a very important component. And, all I am saying is that, while preparing the "ultimate public transport document", it should cover the aspects I have brought out in my document wrt 'public bus transport services'. I am sure you can't disagree with that.

And, if you read my document closely, the following excerpts show that these aspects have indeed been covered, though not quite elaborated upon: "get people into the healthy habit of walking, atleast upto the bus-stands; introducing ‘pedestrians only’ zones in city centers; promotion of the healthy practice of walking atleast to & from the bus stops"

Muralidhar Rao


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@Murali / All.. I am a Bengalurian for more than two decades. While I don't have to comment on the quality of BMTC services as it has been discussed several times in praja and everywhere else and we get to see it daily anyways, I am skeptical on what privatization would help/do to improve this. Lets think about in the paradigm of current corruption and the powers that can get those contracts to run private services and how accountable they can be made to public. Example is the blue-line buses in Delhi. It just will run out of hand and become irreversible if the vested interests come into play. Privatizing public services like transportation is working/could work in less corrupt countries but not in India.


I believe more easily manageable would be making BMTC accountable. If intra-koramangala service was done shabbiliy and then dropped then i guess we would need to make the people at the helm explain. I have read people complain about privitization not really doing much good even in cities like London etc.. where quite a few public services, it seems, are privatized (I dont have much info on that, but i will find out and post about it). To the eyes of an visiting Indian,  the overall standard, in London for example, might be better than in India as the worst public services over there is better than the best in India, if the same worst happens in India upon privitization then imagine what it would be. I might seem pessimistic here, but it helps to analyse all exteremities.

I firmly believe public services should be completely in the hands of govt but be transparent with active citizen participation. Will the citizen participate is a bigger question to me in Bengaluru, than will the participation be allowed by govt agencies. comment guidelines

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