Experts feel the need for powerful transport authority for city

Experts feel the need for powerful transport authority for city

In the absence of co-ordination between government agencies to address urban mobility issues, experts have felt the need for a powerful Unified  Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA).

The matter was discussed during the two-day workshop on ‘Modernising City Bus Services - Vision 2022’, organised by WRI India in partnership with BMTC and KSRTC here on Thursday.

BMTC managing director Ekroop Caur said multiple government agencies were undertaking different mobility infrastructure projects based on individual perspectives. “There is a need to set up a single agency to oversee all transport matters. UMTA should have enough powers to control each agency, including the bus transport corporations and Namma Metro,” she opined.

To make the authority more powerful, Caur also suggested allocating tax revenue generated from transport corporations to UMTA.

Experts also wanted the government to simplify guidelines of preparing the Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP).

V Ravichandar from Feedback Consulting said the CMP has nothing except a lot of good English and mathematics which nobody understands. “It’s not worth the paper unless the document is simple for the people to understand,” he said. 

Besides, Rajendra Kumar Kataria, managing director, KSRTC felt the need for rebranding public transport services. “There is an impression that public transport is only for the poor and middle class. This needs to be changed. In western countries, people of all classes use public transport,” he noted.

Tax incentives
Earlier, Ekroop Caur underlined the importance of providing tax incentives to transport corporations. “The BMTC pays an average of Rs 120 crore in motor vehicle taxes while Mumbai pays just Rs 15 crore. In addition to a number of indirect taxes, the corporation also pays around Rs 10 crore as toll,” she said.

She added that the Gujarat government has exempted government buses from paying toll. “Similarily, we have written to the Karnataka government to exempt us, but it has not been done,” Caur noted.

“About 6,500 buses cater to 40% of the city’s population. We want to increase the share to 60%. Apart from encouraging public transport through tax exemption and incentives, the government can discourage private transport by introducing parking policy and congestion charges,” she explained.

The BMTC MD was not in favour of increasing fares. “When the fare was increased in 2014, there was just 12% increase in revenues. But we lost a lot of passengers in the longer run,” she felt. 

BMTC chairman Nagaraju Yadav also sought financial assistance from both the governments to keep the bus fares low.
DH News Service

BMTC smart cards in January
In an attempt to provide a cashless commuting experience, BMTC has planned to roll out open-loop smart cards in January, 2017.

“We have introduced the Intelligent Transport System (ITS), giving emphasis to technology. Besides GPS tracking systems, electronic ticketing machines and mobile-based applications, the smart card project is aimed at cashless travel. These cards could be used at any point of sale (POS) outlets and Metro stations,” Ekroop Caur said.

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