Friday , 23 August 2019

Interview with: Gaurav Gupta, Transforming State Bus Transport Systems

State Road Transport operations are often taken for granted by the general public. You have changed that perception.

In KSRTC we have adopted three approaches. One is based on commercial principles, second is from the point of view of public service and the third is our consciousness that we have to cater to all the segments of the population. Within the long distance bus service itself we are catering to the higher strata of society by introducing Volvo and Mercedes Benz and other buses; to the middle segment by providing non air- conditioned buses but with luxury seats and to the lowest segment consisting of people who cannot afford to travel in luxury buses by ensuring that there is a degree of comfort with the head rest and other basic needs. Our short distance operations connect all taluk head quarters. The City services are supported by additional suburban services around major cities.

We do have competition from private operators in inter-state or long distance segment. In the short distance segment, there are transport modes like autos and tempo trucks which may not be the right modes. They often resort to over loading and over charging. We are very conscious about the fact that if we have to stay in the market, we have to be affordable and have to be seen as good service providers. So with that intention, we have been acting not only in terms of bus services but also in terms of the end to end comfort which includes the infrastructure. We are developing modern bus stations in several cities in the State with public amenities including post office, police station, commercial establishments, entertainment and refreshment centres.

KSRTC now has one of the most professionally managed fleet of over 300 high-end buses named ‘Airavat’. With a very dedicated team of officers & staff and the tremendous support from the Government, KSRTC is able to cover almost every district and taluk head quarters in Karnataka.

Also interchange facilities?

Yes, these bus stations have connectivity with city bus service and in Bangalore with metro as well. While integrating different modes of transport, we provide for parking facility in our terminals. The commuter is at the centre of the bus station and the buses go around rather than the earlier system in which the buses were at the centre and the people were at the shelters on the sides. So this new kind of people or commuter-centric approach is what we are taking in respect of the bus infrastructure plan. We also want to improve access for the commuters – people need not come to us to reserve the tickets or file complaints or read newspapers to know of our services. We have a very popular website and online booking system which caters to almost 20-30% of our long distance bus services. Booking can also be done through mobile phones. M-ticket will be sent to the person’s registered mobile number and that itself can be used for travel. This has been started recently and the response has been excellent.

What is ‘Awatar’ booking?

This is a complete online reservation system – ‘Anywhere Anytime Advance Reservation’. A versatile system, it has been catering to the needs of our more than 600 agents in Bangalore, other parts of Karnataka and in places outside the state like Pune, Shirdi, Chennai, Mumbai, Vijayavada or Thiruvananthapuram. Many people may not be comfortable with electronic system of booking tickets and Awatar ensures that our franchises can offer additional services. They also book through the same online system and the M booking is through the same system which provides for the payment gateway. The charges are to be routed through the credit card or debit card and also through net banking. This has become popular and we are trying to increase the capacity and robustness of the system. In short, the combination of the right kind of fleet for specified routes, the Transport Infrastructure at the terminals and ease of access in terms of booking, complaints and feedback is working well to KSRTC’s advantage. Many people are actively participating in our social networking sites by uploading pictures or making comments and demands. We are looking at establishing call centres and online refund system. By implementing the IT services, we should be able to track the bus services online.

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