Call to digitalise time schedule of buses

Expert highlights need for tech-based solutions to problems in transport sector

The lockdown period must be used to digitalise time schedule of buses and channelise public transport, in keeping with demographic changes to prevent overlapping of services and lessen the number of private vehicles on roads.

Officials of the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) could get this done during the lockdown, since their workload had reduced, said official sources. In the absence of digitalisation, mayhem prevails at timing conferences convened by respective Regional Transport Officers (RTOs), since bus operators vociferously oppose any move to reallocate time schedule in different routes. “This is because even a shift of a minute or two in the time schedule of a bus causes overlapping with that of other buses, affecting their daily collection. This can be overcome through digitalisation of time schedules, which would be available at the click of a button. Moreover, time is overdue to reroute buses in keeping with demographic changes, through new and emerging residential and commercial areas,” they said.

Such an intelligent system to make optimal use of the existing fleet of KSRTC and private buses and to augment services based on demand could be realised if start-up firms were roped in and apprised of the requirements. Flexi-rates (higher fare) could be introduced in far-flung areas which were not linked by public transport, since commuters would otherwise have to shell out extra on autorickshaws or private vehicles, said MVD officials.

Former Senior Deputy Transport Commissioner B.J. Antony, who played a key role in formulating provisions of Kerala Metropolitan Transport Authority (KMTA) Act, highlighted the need for technology-based solutions for problems in the public transport sector.

“The MVD has not commissioned a study on this. KSRTC’s debt burden is increasing, while the number of private buses in Kerala has lessened from 35,000 over a decade ago to around 14,000. By relying on digital platforms, the State and Central governments will be able to gauge, for example, the number of students and women who travelled in a bus. The travel concessions that are given to them must be compensated for, by providing bus operators with financial help in proportion to the concessions that they gave. After all, the Centre and State collect massive amounts as tax on fuel, which is over double its manufacturing cost,” said Mr. Antony.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 5:28:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/call-to-digitalise-time-schedule-of-buses/article31610474.ece

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