The Tribune – Bus policy to undo monopoly

Roster system to be introduced during peak hours

Ruchika M Khanna, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, 12 May 2017. Designed to provide a level-playing field, Punjab’s new transport policy aims to rationalise the motor vehicle tax on air-conditioned buses and follow a roster system for buses to ply in peak hours.

No longer will the peak hour time-tables be allotted to a privileged few. Instead, all transporters will be allotted these for a month in rotation. The time-table discipline will be enforced through CCTV cameras to ensure that no bus operator overstays at a stop.

This draft policy, once approved, will clamp down on the “hugely favourable to the Badals” policy of the previous Akali-BJP regime, where the time-tables of buses, the tax on categories of buses owned by the Badals and other politically-connected transporters (tax on luxury and AC buses was less than on ordinary buses), and unauthorised extension of route permits helped in monopolisation of the business.

The new policy also explores the potential of roping in more players in the private sector, especially in the mini-bus segment.

Sources said the draft of the policy has been sent to the Advocate General office for legal vetting. Advocate General Atul Nanda said the draft policy would be approved by early next week.

Under the new policy, each of the 13,000 public transport buses (6,000 mini-buses, 3,200 state transport buses and 4,000 private transport buses) will have to install a GPS system and CCTV cameras. The idea is to ensure that no bus misses the trip on the permitted routes so as to carry only full buses and cut costs.

The system of reviewing the rate of diesel will remain the same: every three months, with adjustments in increasing or decreasing the price of tickets subsequently. On the cards is also the revision of monopoly bus routes and strengthening of the state-owned transport sector by adding more buses.

Official sources said the government could raise a loan for buying more buses.


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