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Keep the saarige, let go yelli-iddira

Understanding competition as a/the solution for public transit. Muralidhar rao's praja post is a starting point for the discussion on competizing public transport. The other day, during the PTWG meeting, when the issue of the pathetic condition of BMTC's website and demise of yelli-iddira came up, he broke into an impassioned and yet articulate speech. I cannot recollect his exact words, but his basic point was that BMTC lacks any competitive or regulatory pressure and hence the pathetic state of those services. The only way to get service levels to improve is to open its domain for competition. I have heard his basic position many times, but to hear him make his case in person was a friends,countrymen and romans moment for me. In any case, his speech got me thinking ... There are many aspects to this issue. And many of them we have discussed before. My principle dvandhva wrt his plan is due to this:
7. Service providers to be free to choose the routes they wish to operate on, as also the schedules. RTO to be empowered to impose restrictions only in the case of overcrowding of routes/roads.
I cannot reconcile how such individualized reductionist planning can work for the city as a whole. Routing is one obvious issue. But beyond that, public transit is the bigger game and buses are but one part of that game. But that aside, wrt services I see his point. I want to restart the debate with these two services in particular and other services in general. These are complete service products, which require their own domain expertise. How about bmtc runs buses and lets somebody else run the website and yelli-iddira? How about BMTC fires up its gps units and databases, and sell information to anybody who is interested in that info. Ofcourse for security and sanity reasons, BMTC will have to authorize use first. Portals like yahoo, sify and god knows who, might build their own interfaces and delivery mechanisms and the best thing is, there will be true competition in the delivery of those services. bus elli idiyo gotilla, illirOru yaen antheeri?
silkboard's picture

The platform-access split is very much doable

We got to meet them soon and engage them on this GPS thing. Following is very doable (recall from our meeting with Mr Tripathy in May):

Make GPS information available as a "platform". Things about this platform would be:

  • Costs
    • One time building cost
    • Ongoing maintenance and running cost
  • Access
    • Will provide authentication based access to anyone who wants the info
    • Those accessing the info will pay a monthly/annual etc fee
    • This money pays for the running cost of GPS information platform
  • Service providers
    • They get the info via this "controlled access" (see above)
    • They are free to do whatever they want to do with it
      • Make these available via SMS, can append text ads to the SMS
      • Make these available on websites
      • Run call centers where you hear an ad before hearing the bus location info
      • Basically, its up to them

This just so so doable. Since the GPS information platform is already there (done earlier for Yelli Idira), can reuse the same if it fits the bill (to be grown into a platform).

If BMTC doesn't wish to pay for the one time cost to build the platform (I think it should), it can make service provider pay, or 3-4 uf us here can build the platform for them for a few Vaayu Vajra bus passes. I am not kidding.

nijavaada's picture



Well firstly I'd like to thank everyone who made it in the meeting during last weekend. Unfortunate I couldnt have any representation. But I have been curiously following the minutes, and everything related put up here. And thanks to some of those snaps, cud see (&relate) a few faces to names..

Coming back to business here:

silkboard, I dont know if it was among the things that were discussed in the meeting, but are we trying to concentrate our solution to the transportation problem only on these lines? Or is this just one aspect?  Why are we going gung-ho about the YI feature, and the related GPS technology?

NewYork city uses public transport most in the world, and as a city NY is big in terms of expanse, population and congestion too. They dont even have a number where one can call and find out if there's a bus going to be there or not! But its still the most used mode in the city.

The point here is that there are some other things related to public transport that enable its easy absorption and acceptance in a society - which is what we desire right? Also if we want our "desirable" public transport system to get working by design, it should have a scalable model to begin with. It should be something that we can (today) plug into any other town in Karnataka and lo! it should work fine.

I am not opposing hi-tech in buses - have no reason to do that - but am not comfortable seeing that so much effort should be going into making such trivial things (as sometimes referred to in the original comments) happen. True, you may be talking about a litmus-test for the WG, but lets us take on better projects. Lets say -

  • partner with some good driving schools and arrange them to conduct some real good driving lessons for BMTC drivers - saw there was something in the budget for this too. This way we could ensure BMTC buses gain the much-needed respect on roads with respect to the comfort they provide - both inside and outside the bus! With this partnership approach BMTC and suggest we'll arrange their trainings. (the image of BMTC buses in people's minds is a big enough factor to make them stay away from these "unsafe" buses..)
  • liasion with some leading IT companies in BLR and BMTC - using Praja brand name - to set the bus-sponsorship programme up and running - atleast start the fire. we may at least be able to get 10 big companies sponsor the bus-buying cost or fuel-costs of a portion of BMTC's fleet. And of course these companies get to benefit in some pre-agreed way. (although money is not too much of a concern at BMTC, making corporates involved in this sort-of relieves the roads of non-buses..)
Can go on imagining more ways, but am sure the group here can start debating it first..


murali772's picture

dvandhva addressed?


In fact, Pranav has been finding it more and more difficult to hold me back these days, once I take off. And, I promise you, I am going to be making it more and more so for him, in future:))).

I agree that the specific clause responsible for your 'dvandhva' pre-supposes a near perfect regulatory and policing environment, which we are far far removed from. Considering that, I had myself altered the policy statement replacing the specific clause with the following two new ones.

A state regulatory body, named say Karnataka Land Transport Authority (KLTA), to be constituted, more or less on the lines of the KERC (after dissolving the Transport Department), to oversee all aspects related to the field, including functions like those of RTO.

Public bus transport sector to be opened out to facilitate entry of (say) 5 reputed players (and 2 each in Mysore and Hubli-Dharwar), who will be required to bring in a fleet of a minimum 500 buses into operation (within 6 months of being awarded the license), and who will then compete with each other as well as the BMTC (or respective city govt operator) on a level playing field, subject to concessions noted below.

I had commented to this effect earlier also at

I trust that addresses your dvandhva

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
silkboard's picture

Re: Nijavaada

In the meeting, and even otherwise, most of us agreed on one thing - we need to take one relatively small project and run with it to assess and prove ourselves. I speak of GPS, YI etc because it seems like something we can run with right now as we have the contacts and experience in this area. This is not the only aspect we talked.

You also said:

The point here is that there are some other things related to public transport that enable its easy absorption and acceptance in a society - which is what we desire right?

Absoutely right! We will list these "desirable" aspects in spectacular details in a separate section on our website, and use them to educate whoever we can reach. We will build gyan here, gyan that is common sense, and should come from us (the "public" in public transport) and validated and supported by experts.

Next, you may think I am out to please you today, but I like this point of yours too:

... if we want our "desirable" public transport system to get working by design, it should have a scalable model to begin with. It should be something that we can (today) plug into any other town in Karnataka and lo! it should work fine.

So true. Thats why I think the Bangalore-only concepts and bodies, be it Kasturirangan's MPC or BMLTA, need to extended to other cities right from the start. comment guidelines

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