The other good news has been the decision to install electronic ticketing machines in HRTC (Himachal Roadways Transport Corporation) buses. I really don’t know whether to cheer for technology or to moan at the irrational decision. I say irrational, because the electronic service would be there not to be at par with technology but to replace conductors, which the Corporation feels would cut down the losses it incurs by paying salaries to them. It would now on be the bus driver’s responsibility to distribute the machine-generated tickets after collecting money from passengers.
I wonder, why the Corporation felt short of saying that even drivers too should be replaced by robotic machines. So now we expect the driver to stop at stations, hand on tickets to the passenger and then get his hands on the steering. Conductors, I believe, that not only were there for handing over tickets to the passengers. They made sure that while giving a pass or taking a pass or backing up in the hilly terrain, the bus didn’t brush the other vehicle, or didn’t brush the rocks or the tyre didn’t go off the road at a kerb. The conductor was a helping hand during bus-breakdowns. While the driver guarded the bus, the conductor did the running around to look for a mechanic, calling up the Unit and informing the Transport Manager about the debacle and request for a replacement. Conductors were also a link between the passengers and the Corporation. So now on, expect the driver to get out of the bus and look for the distance between the bus and the cliff and then get back at the steering. Or rely upon the over-excited passengers. But it’s not the job of the passenger. Another thing, whom would the Corporation fix the blame, in case there are accidents in such a scenario?
And above all, the conductor gave company to the tired driver during the journey and at night. So now, we expect the driver to sleep alone in the bus in interior areas at night, with nobody to talk to and no entertainment. Will the electronic ticketing machine talking to him as well? But why does the driver need entertainment and company. Is he paid for that? Does the Corporation mean to say that. Ridiculous. Henceforth, we can expect the driver to go into depressions and have more accidents. Manpower could have been cut down at workshops, by upgrading technology there. Get rid of the conductor – It’s one of the most bizarre ideas that the Corporation could have come up with.
I hope, wisdom would dawn upon our bureaucrats and ministers who took this decision. It’s a good idea to have electronic machines, because it will also help in bringing down errors. In fact, a system should be in place which can count the footfalls and identify the passenger with a code and his journey in kilometres. This way, conductors who pocket most of the money without handing over tickets to the passengers can be checked. And I believe most of the times, the Corporation runs into losses, because conductors only charge half the fare from passengers and either don’t hand over tickets to passengers or hand over the ticket half the amount he’s paid. This way, both the passenger and the conductor have saved a lot. But the Corporation suffers and down go the services. And that’s why we have mostly sick-buses plying on routes.
So it would be both in interest of the Corporation and the passengers to install technology without getting rid of the conductors.