Transportation reforms around the BMLTA concept

[Cross posted from Praja-Bangalore, comments off]

In the telecom space, you have TRAI, which is a national level regulatory body. Rightly so, since telecom networks have national footprint through interconnections, it need not be looked at as a state subject. Drawing a parallel for our state, think of extending BMLTA concept to the state – a Karnataka state land transport authority (KSLTA). Why so? Because we want efficient two or three change connectivity from Whitefield to Haradanahalli as well, and not just to Jayanagar or Malleswaram. Just like the primary schools, every region needs good connectivity.

KSLTA can have circles defined for local transportation, just the way telecom world has circles that span 1 or more states. There could be a fixed number of operators in each circle. Some rolling stock operators could be allowed the equivalent of “STD”, meaning they can offer inter circle transportation as well, but there would be separate set of norms for long distance (inter circle) routes. The norms would look like this

  • Mandatory direct or indirect connectivity between hubs like Bangalore and remote and potentially non-profitable areas.
  • Not mixing the local and long distance loads
  • Adhering to price guidelines, there could be two – one for local and another for long haul commutes.
  • Guidelines on safety, operating conditions and quality of service (similar stuff as in UP govt’s note about opening up its road transport sector)

“Roaming” should be a strict no no. Meaning, bus registered in one circle must operate in that circle. The inter-circle buses must do only long haul (inter-circle) business. So, a bus going from Bangalore to Kolar can’t stop at HAL to pick up passengers for Marathahalli and Whitefield.

Inter state routes would require some more thinking, as there could be different sets of norms across states. A “reciprocal slot” approach could work here, basically on the lines of how international air routes are worked out. So, for example, there would be equal number of bus trips originating and ending at Bangalore and Chennai (say 60 from Chennai, and 60 from Bangalore). But a Bangalore based operator could “lease” out its route to a Chennai operator (like how Air India does on many international routes today, it can’t afford to operate so gives them out to that country’s carrier).

To summarize all of above:

  • In such a world, there wouldn’t be a BMLTA, only a KSLTA. Why? Because you don’t want to enhance public transportation only in Bangalore Metro Region, you need it everywhere. Its a basic, like primary education. Or else, you will be expanding Bangalore’s boundary every 5 years, whereas, ‘equal’ development will create “peer” hubs around Bangalore without requiring special attentions and more B* bodies.
  • There would be operating circles. Bangalore Metro region could be one. Mangalore-Udupi region could be another. There will be some study required to carve out these circles. Can’t have too many of them, nor too few.
  • Inter-state routes will be regulated as well, so that Karnataka based operators get eqaul share of any KA city’s prosperity. Number of intestate routes could be driven by demand. But there must be some reciprocal arrangement.
  • Last, KSRTC, BMTC etc can choose to continue to exist. They can be given the first right to refuse in all KA circles. They could be given a fixed percentage on all interstate routes. And if they get their act together (they certainly can, look, they are so much better than many state’s operators), perhaps KSRTC/BMTC will exist and prosper like BSNL!

How does it sound?

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