900 319 0030

Revamping Buses for Better Transport

iasparliament Logo
August 07, 2019

What is the issue?

With increased congestion on roads in India’s major cities, there has to be relook at India’s policy on promoting buses a key public transport means.

Why are mobility plans significant for cities?

  • When cities fail at mobility, it results in congestion, lost productivity, worsening pollution and a terrible quality of life.
  • India’s big cities have all these attributes, and 14 of them were in the list of the 15 most polluted cities worldwide last year.
  • Congestion in the four biggest metros causes annual economic losses of over $22 billion.
  • This was highlighted by the NITI Aayog in its Transforming Mobility report.
  • In big cities, new roads are not possible, and no new land is available.
  • But they must prepare to serve more and more people who arrive each year.
  • In such case, successful plans build better mobility.

What are the limitations?

  • Number of buses - Indian cities need to add several thousand buses more, and not just spend heavily on Metro rail.
  • There are over 1.7 million buses in India, about 10% of them operated by governments.
  • Individual cities do not have enough of them to provide a good service, and the gap is filled mostly by unregulated intermediates, such as vans.
  • Comfort - The buses operated by governments are not properly designed, are uncomfortable and badly maintained.
  • Government corporations do a less appreciable job when it comes to using technology.
  • Use - Buses have an image problem in the society.
  • There lies an aspiration among people to progress from a bicycle to a scooter, then to a four-wheeler.
  • Information - One of the key barriers to taking a bus is not getting information about the service.
  • Bus corporations deprive themselves too, of revenue, by failing to act on this.
  • Cities such as London and Singapore have systems to tell passengers where the next bus is on a route and predict its arrival at a stop in real time.
  • Such a system is not available for even the biggest metro cities in India, something the Smart City mission could have addressed.

What could be done?

  • London, for instance, is a city with an iconic bus system that integrates famously with its equally popular ‘tube’ system (as the Metro is known there).
  • In India, buses need an image makeover and cities need several thousand more buses, of good design and build quality.
  • They need to use contact-less fare payments using suitable cards, since buying tickets is also a barrier.
  • Buses also need support to move faster through city traffic, using policy tools such as congestion pricing for cars.
  • E.g., London discourages the use of cars through a congestion charge within a defined area.
  • The London congestion charge immediately cut traffic in the demarcated area by 20%, helped speed up buses and improved revenues.
  • The biggest reform that the U.K. experience teaches is integration.
  • Bringing traffic authorities, road engineers and transport operators under the same umbrella helped eliminate planning and operational problems.
  • Indian cities have unified Metropolitan Transport Authorities to do that; they must be brought to life and given mandatory targets.
  • The goal should be a stipulated higher share of travel by public transport, walking and cycling.
  • Importantly, this should be evaluated through periodic surveys of customer satisfaction.


Source: The Hindu

Login or Register to Post Comments
There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to review.



Free UPSC Interview Guidance Programme