Meeting with Mr Tripathy, BMTC – Summary

[Cross-posting from Praja-Bangalore, comments are off]

So it did happen. Naveen, Murali sir, Vasanth, Praveen, myself got 30 minutes of Mr Tripathy’s time in his office. After introducing Praja etc, we were planning to present our (rather, Naveen’s) slides on single dedicated lane based BRTS idea. But Mr Tripathy said he was short on time, and would look at it later at leisure. However, he warned us that he just can’t do BRTS by himself. He is only a bus operator, and owns only the rolling stock. We should go to other bodies (BBMP/BDA/Traffic police to get non-rolling stock infrastructure for BRTS) to push for it. He then updated us on the BRTS-on-ORR project a bit. He seemed well versed with BRTS, its need and advantages, Bogota etc. Though, his take on the key reason for the success of buses at Bogota is – the interesting ways in that city ran campaigns to educate citizens on road discipline.

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How is 18% for majority!?

After casting my vote early in the morning yesterday, while I drove around and was doing some shopping, I was curiously trying to spot the ink on those index fingers. My empirical observations told me that less than 50% of people had taken the trouble of visiting a polling booth. Morning newspapers are saying that Bangalore city areas saw only 44% voter turnout, and I am not surprised.

With three cornered (four, if you add BSP) contests everywhere, it is safe to assume that winning candidate will at best get 35-40% of the votes polled. 40% (winning percentage) of 44% (voting percentage) = around 18%. So, the winning candidates can realistically claim to have support of only 18% of Bangalore’s citizens.

What a shame. 18% is not even half of what we call majority (50%). They say democracy is the rule of majority and I am wondering how the hell do we call this democracy.

[Cross posted from Praja-Bangalore, comments off]

Traffic – Insurance laws to strengthen enforcement?

Over an year ago, I was driving not so fast not so slow, near the hard median of a road, when I spotted a bold biker riding on the ‘wrong’ side. Right around then, an impatient cab (Sumo) following behind decided to pass me from the left, the overtaking action putting him on a collision course with the wrong-way biker. The biker sensed trouble and tried to ‘filter’ through us. But in between his confused maneuvers, the bike slipped, fell, and I found the man and machine directly ahead of me. Hard median to my right, heavy-metal Sumo on my left, I didn’t have much to do or think, I braked hard, real hard, and stopped just short of the fallen human and machine waiting to be crushed.

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Shell outlets: shutdown coming?

Suman isn’t the only one. I too noticed that my neighborhood Shell bunk now sells only the premium petrol (Shell supreme or something), cost ranging from Rs 61 – 64 a liter over last month. The BP bunk nearby offers Rs 52 – 55 Rs/liter. 15% is a bit much premium to pay, though I know I get 8-10% better mileage with Shell. So, no more Shell now. And guessing from reduced crowds at this Shell bunk, this seems to be the case with many.

Reliance recently announced shutting down all its retail petroleum outlets (pumps). How long before Shell does the same?

Now, while filling at the BP bunk, I can’t help staring at the diesel rates – Rs 36 odd per liter! That is a third less than petrol, again, a bit too much, and calling out to trade in my petrol car with a diesel.

Its all pretty sad though – us, the consumers not paying the real price for petrol, and more so for diesel. The whole sarkaari petroleum machinery is happy siphoning off money from organized adulteration business (I don’t have proof, so this is loose talk by definition). And by subsidizing the cost of fuel, they keep our mouths shut and voters happy. Wonderful arrangement – that subsidy is like a kickback for us to let distribution irregularities pass off under the carpet.

Will the fuel prices be unreasonably high if sarkaari control over distribution and pricing were to go away? Don’t know. May be not, because loss of subsidy may be offset by more efficient and clean distribution process brought in by private enterprise. Or may be yes. But why should government care?

Entrepreneurship around alternate energy will prosper only if we start paying the real high prices for petrol and diesel, isn’t it? We will change our driving and private vehicle usage patterns only if ‘real’ and high fuel prices start pinching our pockets dry, isn’t it? Its sort of like saying water is important so preserve it, but keeping potable water’s cost so low that you don’t take those threats seriously.

So tell me now. Which diesel is better, Swift VDI and Getz Prime?

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