How can HRTC raise revenue



First of all the entire fleet of HRTC buses needs to be made defunct because these are not buses but boxes fixed to the chasis of a truck. We Indians have been travelling in these for decades. Since roads in Himachal are not wide, HRTC should select medium size buses with luggage storage space below the chassis. Do away with luggage storage space on the roof. This is one of the reasons of making the bus unstable, potential risk of accidents and more so because there are travellers atop, most of them ticketless of course. Those who are keen on travelling with goats and bagfuls of farm fresh green peas or potatoes should be encouraged to use appropriate vehicles like small pick-up trucks. Private entrepreneurs can be encouraged to introduce this person+cargo transportation.

In every small town, govenment can open kiosks where tickets (clip cards with holographic seals) or zonal passes can be bought. These should all be networked, i.e. sharing a common database. So how does this mechanism work? It is very simple. A customer buys a 10 clip card say for Rs 400. This clip card has an indefinite validity, i.e. its value starts diminishing when one starts clipping it. Closer to the front gate we need a battery operated clipping machine. A passenger enters the bus from the front gate, clips the card, shows it to the driver/conductor and proceeds to his seat. One clip (Rs 40) could be valid for multiple travel within a certain area and for a certain time period say one or two hours. Pass holders can buy monthly or six-monthly passes depending upon the frequency of travel and the area of travel.

The advantage of this system is that it brings in transparency because every transaction is recorded. There are no waiting lines/times and travel becomes conveninent. But there are other things that need to be introduced. People should board the bus from the front gate and get down from the middle or rear gate for a hassle free movement of passengers. Even for long distance travel, people should be encouraged to buy tickets from kiosks located in all towns. I never enjoyed travelling in buses in Himachal. Most of them are foul smelling, rarely cleaned – have smell of puke, and many passengers smoke beedies much to the chagrin of fellow passengers. Levy heavy fines on ticketless passengers and those who smoke inside. Never allow a bus to carry more passengers than the capacity of the bus. That means more buses… go for them. An overcrowded bus is an accident waiting to happen. For long distance travel, one definitely needs a crew of two members. I haven’t invented this model but this functions very well in Denmark, which is a country of approximately the size of Himachal and population of 52 lakh. The system is absolutely foolproof and punctuality of buses +/-1 to 2 minutes. All buses have GPS and a central control room keeps the drivers informed about traffic conditions on various routes. Do the bus drivers sell ticket inside the bus? Yes they do but these tickets are very expensive. Driver has a ticket vending machine closer to his seat. In my about one year of stay in Denmark, I have seen not more than one in 50 passengers buying tickets from the driver because these are expensive. Almost everybody uses clip cards or bus passes. The beauty of the system is that clip cards are valid all over Denmark and can be used in combination to the zonal pass in case one is travelling in a zone not covered by the pass. These are valid even in trains!!

HRTC should be run like a business, not like a perennial liability. Its Chairman along with his cronies should simply be fired and the organisation should be privatised.

But the most important thing, Denmark is one of the most honest countries in the world. Bus service is provided by a private company, so obviously the focus remains on efficiency and profitability without compromising the passenger comfort.

Will that happen in a country which ranks highest in bribe paying and ranks 88th in honesty as per transparency international? The generation yet to be conceived will probably tell.

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  1. Dear Mr Pathania

    Your article is an interesting read. I hope this can be forwarded to the state government . What i was wondering is what stops the private players from providing such service.

    with regards

  2. Dear Varun,

    Private players can certainly provide such service but it is the state government which should catalyze the process. Unfortunately Govt. in India (central or state) is of the opinion that it is well conversant with every subject under the sky. In my opinion it should restrict its role to policy formation, regulation and leave such sectors for private entrepreneurs. Hiring and Firing are quite common in private sector. So how do the people who loose their jobs cope up with the job loss, well till they remain unemployed they get a tax free minimum allowance from the govt. but they are continuously chased either by govt or by a designated agency which identifies job opportunities for them. This means extra burden on the tax payer but overall situation is always beneficial for all. e.g. in Denmark which is known as the best welfare state in the world, the tax levels are in the range of 30-60% flat and people don’t complain paying such high taxes because government spends tax quite honestly in providing and excellent infrastructure to its citizens. Free medical facilities, free education, subsidised transport facilites for senior citizens etc. Municipal authorities ensure that every child is provided admission in school. You see government plays a very important role in maintaining transparency and taking care of its citizens. So the people remain free from worries and channel their energy towards other productive objectives. This is not a country which has the natures gifts of mineral wealth or other resources but by the dint of hard work, it has carved out a niche for itself in various fields such as dairy, poultry, windmills, engineering, architecture etc.

    I sometimes wonder that we in India are quite good in debating the issues and churning out ideas but unless the policy makers and other stake holders are involved we might remain in the loop of debates only.


    DS Pathania

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