Bus-based Public Transport (BBPT) systems have an important role in making city life comfortable and providing the urban dweller access to education, jobs, social life etc. An efficient, flexible and responsive city bus based public transport system can help citizens save time, money by providing safe, accessible, affordable, comfortable services. There are co-benefits of climate change mitigation and better air quality in the city.
However, not a single city in Maharashtra has an adequate public transport system.
Out of 29 Municipal Corporations, less than half have city bus services. The number of urban buses currently is extremely low, between 15-20 per lakh population in cities such as Mumbai, Pune, and Nashik, and abysmally low (single digits) in all other cities. With this as the central theme of the campaign, it is called Lakh ko Pachaas, emphasizing the basic requirement of at least 50 buses per lakh of population. The campaign has started off in six cities of Maharashtra - Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Nashik, Aurangabad and Amaravati.
Based on our analysis an investment of ~Rs 1100 crore per annum using a Public Private Partnership-model with Viability Gap Funding per bus km - shared between the State Government and the ULBs - can enable cities to attain a benchmark of 30 buses per lakh population increasing to 50 buses per lakh over a 5-year period. This will result in the operation of ~22,000 buses across all 27 Municipal Corporations in Maharashtra, bringing it at par with some of the best cities in the world. This will lead to substantial reduction in air pollution and congestion levels and provide all classes of citizens good quality public transport resulting in savings for people as well as the city (savings in terms of cost of expansion of road infrastructure). Investments in high quality public transport infrastructure (state of the art depots and terminals), sufficient number of buses in cities and the jobs created by this scheme will help to boost the economy. Healthier and more resilient cities will also reduce health costs and improve productivity of the workforce, both of which can also contribute to upticks in the economy.The consequences are loss of Gross Domestic Product due to traffic congestions, stressful commute, road rage, unsafe travels, fatalities on road, deteriorating air quality in the city impacting health of vulnerable city dwellers. It is evident that bus-based public transport in cities needs immediate attention.
Apart from this, other important demands of the campaign are as follows;
1. Make public transport services an obligatory function for Municipal Corporations.
2. Create a State-level Urban Public Transport Authority responsible for oversight, setting of service-level benchmarks, technology adoption, dispute resolution and performance evaluation.
3. Establish/Identify a State-level Centre of Excellence responsible for capacity-building, helping ULBs to set-up and run efficient and modern bus systems
The campaign will use different tactics like public meetings, petitions, webinars and social media to bring the issue to the fore and reach out to masses as well as the decision makers.