M P Praveen | The Hindu | January 28, 2017
KOCHI: The greed of a section of new generation bus owners and their willingness to go to any extent to bail out errant workers have been cited as the reason why private buses continue to spill blood on city roads claiming invaluable lives.
The unhealthy practice of paying commission to workers on exceeding daily collection ‘target’ exemplifies this profit-driven attitude of bus owners.
A bus owner who has been in the industry for decades vouched on condition of anonymity that the practice has been rampant for long. “For instance, some owners fix Rs 7,000 to Rs 8,000 as the threshold of daily collection and for every Rs 100 earned after that, the driver and conductor share Rs 15,” he said.
M.B. Satyan, president, Kerala State Private Bus Operators Federation, attributed part of the blame for rash and negligent driving to the impetuous nature of youngsters who turn up for jobs of drivers and conductors.
“It is beyond me as to why the police do not resume punching system, which had been found effective in reining in private bus operators in the past. Several punching cabins in the city remain scarecrows. They can be revived by drawing from traffic police personnel now deployed at many junctions with hardly any purpose,” he said.
Mr. Satyan recalled how a plan to introduce punching system when the Vyttila Mobility Hub was commissioned never took off. He said majority of bus owners were in favour of resuming punching system.
While some owners pointed fingers at indiscriminate allocation of time slots to bus services by the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) for the maddening competition leading to accidents, Ernakulam Regional Transport Officer P.H. Sadik Ali termed it a completely baseless allegation.
“Time slots are allocated only after conducting time settlement meetings. Already, there is a reasonable time gap of 2.50 to 3 minutes between services. But bus workers make a mockery of this by extending this gap at their whims to get maximum number of passengers by staying beyond the permissible duration at bus stops,” he said.
Mr. Ali added that the attitude of passengers was also not conducive to undertaking rigorous enforcement as they turn restless when buses were stopped on the track for checking.
D. Dhanuraj, chairman of the city-based Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), found an inherent flaw in the operation of public transport leading to unhealthy competition. “Covering more miles should be the priority of the public transport network rather than carrying maximum number of passengers for generating revenue. The arrangement being explored in connection with the Kochi metro project to bring public transport under separate societies and sharing of the total revenue by operators is the ideal way followed in the developed world,” he said.
This article was published in The Hindu, on January 28, 2017; to read the article click here: Target-oriented commission system behind road accidents