Ab “Bus” Bahut Hua

You may have wanted to say this so many times earlier also but was somebody listening? No! Our government does not love us. It just loves the international attention commonwealth will bestow on it and that is why you are noticing decrease in fleet of bluelines and simultaneous increase in DTC buses  only now.

In addition to an increase in DTC buses, government has devised a plan of corporatizing the city bus service to finally bid goodbye to the flawed system of bluelines. Entire city has been divided into clusters, numbering seventeen, on the basis of topography and commercial viability. These clusters would be allotted to a single operator per cluster through auction. Thus revenue collection would be two way for the government, one by way of this bidding process and second through ticket collections during operation.

While business interests of these potential operators have been greatly protected by allowing them to advertise on the bus, in the bus and wherever possible, government has forgotten to take care of the aspects which trouble poor passengers the most! There is still no policy in sight which would take care that ride in these ‘corporatized’ buses would be safe and comfortable.

All right that these buses will be paid per Km (Rs. 47.50 per km) they will cover but where is the cap on the kilometres they cover? What if they overspeed and try to cover maximum possible distance because that would mean increased revenue for them? I guess this is one loophole which can bring us back to square one – over speeding buses and accidents due to that. Here government seriously needs to take into consideration the number of trips per day to be allowed.

Another important but neglected point of this new bus system is trained staff. Besides being trained properly to drive a bus they should be trained enough to handle crowd or even the lack of it! Anybody who travels by bus regularly would agree with me. Sometimes conductors become so rude to the point that you wonder if the bus has a ‘no entry’ sign posted on it. Unfortunately this new bus system has no provisions for the training of staff. All it talks about is the revenue model, while you are left to list down disadvantages of capitalism.

This new bus system is quite strange in the way it is being executed. It’s been quite sometime that this plan was approved by the cabinet but so far only one corporate has been awarded contract for a cluster. There are 17 clusters in all to be awarded with such a short time left for the games. I wonder if the government wants to inaugurate the new service for the foreigners only and it really does not love us or it is taking its own sweet time to go forward with the rest of them because badi city, bada bus system, bada profit and badi baatein ahem ahem! Also poor Blueline operators who have served the city for 19 long years have been kept out of the bidding process. If the system is so foolproof then why some new corporate with no experience in the field? Let us give these operators a chance who are ready to go by the new system devised with all due diligence and can help with their intensive experience. And the problem is in the system of Bluelines not in the operators who are here to make money by providing services.

But for now mood of the city can be summed up in this incident I witnessed few days ago. An over charging conductor of a Blueline broke into a fight with an elderly lady over revised ticket prices. The lady who was quite confident of her ‘sarkaar’ shot back, “kar le jo karna hai do mahine mein sadak se gayab hai teri bus”. Notwithstanding this attack on his rozi-roti, conductor sentimentally abused her and got back a tight slap on his cheek back from the fiery lady!

Monica Verma

[Image courtesy: http://beta.thehindu.com/multimedia/dynamic/00006/DTC_LOW_FLOOR_BUS_6620f.jpg]