KSRTC, private operators should imbibe technological changes
The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and the private bus sector in the State should imbibe technological changes and improve their services, rather than feel threatened by the Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines 2020 issued by the Centre, public transport experts say.
The new guidelines are in keeping with upgrading the quality of services. Based on the guidelines, State governments can formulate their own rules, considering the priorities of each State. The new rules are only regulatory in nature, aimed at ushering in accountability in the sector where online technology service providers (aggregators) provide services to commuters, says B.J. Antony, former Senior Deputy Transport Commissioner, who played a key role in formulating policies to integrate different modes of public transport in Kochi.
States can modify
The State governments can modify the Central guidelines, even if it means keeping foreign players away from operating in their State. The guidelines permit States to regulate the commission charged by aggregators. They can also rein in flexi-charges (like surge fee during peak-hours) that different players adopt. The Centre has capped the fare at 1.5 times the regular fare. Even otherwise, the recently constituted Kochi Metropolitan Transport Authority is empowered to take a call on the issue, he adds.
Many key stakeholders, including in the State government and the Motor Vehicles Department, had expressed concerns that the new guidelines will affect the KSRTC and the private bus sector.
Referring to the noticeable presence of online taxi cars in the cities in the State, Mr. Antony says that this development ushered in an affordable and convenient mode of transport. This provided an opportunity for taxi cars, most of which had not been enjoying substantial patronage. In the case of buses, the new guidelines will help usher in players who can provide real-time info