Pop goes the diesel


For the first time, BMTC will acquire 1,500 diesel buses on lease and pay the manufacturer a fixed amount for the kilometres the vehicles run daily

The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), which is sitting on a huge pile of debt, is making preparations to lease as many as 1,500 buses under the gross cost contract (GCC) model. Instead of making an outright purchase of the buses, as the corporation has done for the last 25 years, the BMTC will be making payments to the bus manufacturer on a per-kilometre basis, with minimum assured kilometres. This is the first major shift in the purchase of diesel buses by the BMTC in its history.

Under this model, the transport utility will be able to increase its fleet without worrying about the money needed to purchase the bus. The BMTC followed this model to induct 90 electric buses recently by offering Rs 51 per kilometre and an assured trip of 180-km per bus, besides providing a bus conductor.

We will be leasing a wide range of diesel buses including minibuses using the same model we followed to induct electric buses. This model has been successfully implemented in cities like New Delhi, Ahmedabad and Mumbai

– C Shikha, Managing Director, BMTC

“We will be leasing a wide range of diesel buses including minibuses using the same model we followed to induct electric buses. We will be fixing routes and fares for these buses. This model has been successfully implemented in many Indian cities including New Delhi, Ahmedabad and Mumbai,” C Shikha, Managing Director at BMTC said. She said the proposal was first drafted in 2019 but the implementation was postponed due to the covid-19 pandemic.

On Monday, the BMTC floated tenders to procure 1,500 buses under the GCC model.

The BMTC expects one service provider to supply all the 1,500 diesel buses as it will be easy to handle. Officials are hopeful that there will be a good response from the bus manufacturers.

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Ravi Gadepalli, an independent consultant and public transport expert said the response from the bidders would indicate whether the model is good for the BMTC in the long run or not. “As of now, about 80 per cent of BMTC’s expenditure is not under its control. While the salaries of the employees are fixed by the government or the pay commission, the remaining expenditure is dependent on diesel prices,” he said. The GCC model, he said, would give a picture of what BMTC’s expenditure would be for the next 5-10 years.

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Experts say that the model will help the BMTC in introducing services on new routes without investing in the purchase of buses. Studies also show that there will be no on-street competition for passengers. The major disadvantages are: the operator has no direct incentive to ensure revenue collection; requires constant vigilance and inspection by BMTC to ensure that all revenues are being collected and handed over and third, the operator is not concerned with the efficient operation of the route.

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Vinay Sreenivasa of Bangalore Bus Prayanikara Vedike opposed the model, stating that it results in the privatization of public transport. “Buses are saving the city. We are not able to understand why the government is not able to invest in purchasing buses, which is nothing but asset creation,” he said. He also said the model has been successful in other cities as private operators have been paying lesser wages to the drivers. “Why should a driver who carries passengers safely be paid less? He asked.

Lack of funds has been one of the reasons why the BMTC bus fleet has remained the same with around 6,500 buses for the last five years. Experts however, state that the City currently requires at least 10,000 buses to cater to the growing population and also minimise dependence on private vehicles.

CM promises wage hike for transport workers

In the wake of transport workers announcing an indefinite strike starting from April 7, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa chaired a high-powered meeting with transport minister Laxman Savadi and senior IAS officers. Yediyurappa urged the transport workers to call off the protest, promising to hike the wages of the workers shortly. He also said eight out of their nine demands have been attended to. Sources said that the government will go ahead with its plan to make alternative arrangements by providing permits to maxi cabs and private buses in case the protest continues.



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Sagar Biswas

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