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Petitioning Chief Minister, Government of Karnataka, Bangalore

To end government monopoly in the public bus transport services sector

The city of Bangalore is supposedly adding some 1300 vehicles onto its roads on an average everyday. And, the percentage of cars in this is steadily on the increase. Such a colossal rate of increase of vehicle population is leading to the increased choking of the city roads, with grid-locked situations in different parts of the city becoming the order of the day.

The city and citizens are losing out very heavily on account of this on very many counts, in terms of increased commuting time, increased cost of travel, increased pollution (both air & noise), loss of tree cover, lower overall productivity on account of all of the above.

The governments answer seems to be to just go on increasing the road widths, without appreciating the fact that within a few days time, the increased widths also get choked up with more and more vehicles.

Another of their solutions is the METRO. But, that is at best a solution in the long-term, besides being extremely expensive.

The most simple and cost effective answer is efficient and well-connected public bus transport services. Today, however, this field is the monopoly of the government-owned BMTC. And, that is where the entire problem lies.

BMTC does not have the managerial capacity to measure up to the task, nor can it be expected to gear itself up to do it in the near future, largely because of its monopoly status. A monopoly by itself is bad enough, and when it is a government monopoly, it gets even worse.

The simple answer here is to facilitate the entry of reputed organized sector private players like TVS (TVS was once a bus service provider in the city of Madurai) into the fray. The present rules do not allow for that. It is tailored, under the existing license-permit raaj, to allow only the notorious blue-line (Delhi) kind of operations, which only provides ready fodder for the die-hard opponents of the private sector.

Even if BMTC somehow organizes itself to improve its services, competition can only help improve it further. The benefits of competition are evident in the many other fields, like telephony, airline services, banking, insurance, courier services, TV programming & broadcast, which were all opened out to competition over the last decade.

A policy paper, based on the recommendations made by the Ministry of Petroleum, GoI, giving the outlines along which this could be done, can be accessed here. It also lists out the likely scenario emerging within a few months of the policy being implemented. Though, everyone who has bothered to read it readily agrees with the overall concept, very few are prepared to back it openly, because it is seen as politically incorrect.

And, if our cities are to be saved and taken along the path of sustainable development, there is only this way to go. Apart from that are the immense benefits that will accrue in very many ways to the city because of this one reform in this key infrastructure sector.

Based on the above, Sir, I submit this petition to you to dismantle the present license-permit raaj, and to open up public bus transport services in the city (as well as in the state) to private sector players, across a level playing field, by adopting the a public bus transport policy, more or less on the lines, of the policy paper (linked earlier).

PS:
1) This e-petition was started originally in Apr '09, with the preface (and debate thereof) accessible here. But, because of a technical hitch in the configuring of it, and the confusion thereof, it did not receive the expected support, and I withdrew it, with the intention of resuming it afresh. This has been done now. Not too surprisingly, very little has changed over the 3+ years that have elapsed since then.
2) Those who are not in agreement may perhaps want to introspect on the why of it. If so, check here

This petition was delivered to:
  • Chief Minister, Government of Karnataka, Bangalore


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