“I think right now there are like two kind of threats in the minds of the government when we talk about private operators or private players into the picture. One is about what will happen to fare and another is what will happen to those areas where there is poor EPK (Earnings per kilometre). So, I think in both the cases government will have to play a role even if it brings in private operators or even if it welcome to private operators; the government cannot just forget its role.
Redefining Public Transport
The government needs to broaden the definition of public transport; it has a much bigger role to play in it. It will have to do the monitoring role, even supporting the private operator or even putting service level benchmarks to the operator and looking into passengers or the customers comforts.
The need is an equitable distribution, a distribution that is proportional to the number of people moving and not the number of vehicles moving. There is an advantage that public transport essentially has. There are certain routes that nobody else would want to cater to, non-profitable, but public transport does. So, how do you ensure equity or the balance?
From the technology standpoint, the biggest problem that we have today as far as integration is concerned is lack of standards. Fundamentally multimodal is what, when two systems are able to talk to each other at the same level, they should be able to exchange their services or whatever it is required.
As far as the technology to be made available to everyone and at equitable levels it is important to look at how are we implementing ITS today in India.
Shah agreed that there needs to be a shift like right at a fundamental level specially for buses just in terms of the definitions. “Today we have a state carriage and a contract carriage definition which has been carrying on for a very long time, and that does not actually help. The change in definition is to be in terms of whether it be fixed schedule versus dynamic schedule, whether it be fixed routing versus dynamic routing and whether it be the mode that is being used or the purpose that the mode is being used.
“The government’s responsibility is not to run the buses or run the transportation, it is to guarantee transportation whether that comes from a private player or a public player. Transportation is uniquely the only sector where this restriction is imposed. For some reason, you can’t have a private bus transportation player in the city today for intracity commute specifically. The government can build frameworks, can build regulations, that say that a certain percentage of your fleet needs to cater to low income areas or loss-making routes service so long as your fleet overall has a specific profitability which is what a private player would look like in airlines.”