CHIEF Minister Laxmikant Parsekar has revived the idea of running private buses under the control of the Kadamba Transport Corporation so as to provide better public transport to passengers. The idea will be first tried on the Margao-Canacona route. The idea had been awaiting government decision for four years. Private buses are overcrowded and driven recklessly or stopped arbitrarily to beat competition. Private bus conductors often behave rudely with passengers, including women. Hiring of private buses will take away competition for the KTC and fetch it better revenue which will help its management to adequately compensate the bus owners. Leased-in private buses and addition of more buses will help the KTC to provide better transport services. Commuters can hope to travel in comfort without having to face difficulties they have to face travelling in private buses. The advantage for the private bus owners will be that they will get assured earnings without the hassles of hiring and paying salaries of drivers and conductors. Also, the leakage from daily earnings by the bus staff, which is widely prevalent on the private buses, would cease as it would be for the KTC management to ensure they get the full collection of revenue.
For the commuters, another plus point would be that the buses would ply on Sundays and other holidays too. It has been a practice among private operators to keep their buses off the roads on holidays in order to avoid losses due to lesser number of people travelling on those days. A solid and reliable transport system would earn the goodwill of people in public transport and bring in more passengers which will help in better earnings. If public transport improves in terms of frequency and reliability of schedule, an increasing number of people would prefer to use buses rather than their personal vehicles, reducing the number of vehicles on the road. People would spend less on fuel, there would be lesser air pollution and there would be lesser traffic congestion. It would be easier for people to travel faster.
Public transport in the state since Liberation was under the control of private operators. The setting up of the KTC in 1980 changed the public transport scene, giving a big relief to the passengers. But the hope for improved services dimmed with the KTC getting plagued by various shortcomings. Inefficient management of the corporation led to people losing faith in the KTC and going back to private buses that went on increasing in number, especially in cities where population grew faster. Passengers were also lured by concessions offered by the private bus operators. However, over the years the scene changed. The KTC, which started with a single bus, today has a fleet of 400 buses. Various schemes launched by the government drove people to go back to KTC buses. The government decision to nationalize some important routes also paid rich dividends to the government-owned corporation which has now started making profits. The KTC management needs to bring in professionalism among its employees and reward them on regular basis for better performance. Though a good number of people travel by the KTC, it is not only facing tough competition from private operators but also losing a considerable number of passengers and revenue due to certain bad and potentially harmful practices.
As the proposal to hire private buses and use them under the aegis of the KTC is aimed at providing quality services to the public the government should take all precautions to ensure that it does not face hurdles from the vested interests. The authorities should look into all the legal aspects regarding their arrangements with the private bus owners before implementing the proposal. As the idea is aimed at bringing discipline on the roads and ending miseries that the travelling public suffers at the hands of the unscrupulous private operators, the authorities should not buckle under their pressures under any circumstances. As most private bus employees do not have a good reputation about dealing with the passengers, they should be trained in public dealing if they are retained under the new arrangement. As private bus employees also have notoriety for swindling revenue it would be in the interest of the KTC that CCTV cameras were installed on the buses to ensure that exact revenue collection is deposited by the conductors and not shared with the drivers. The newer arrangements would be beneficial to the private bus staff as they would have fixed duty hours. This system would create a substantial number of jobs as private buses have fewer employees who have to work long hours. In short, the government must do everything possible to use this public-private partnership to give a good public transport to people.