Chandigarh: In a move aimed at breaking the existing monopoly in the transport system, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has mooted an open-door policy for bus permits, except on national highway routes, while directing the Transport Department to allocate certain bus routes for youth in order to facilitate employment generation.
Taking forward his government’s agenda to reform the beleaguered transport system in the state, and free it from the monopolistic shackles created by the previous government, the Chief Minister suggested rationalization of inter-state routes to make them more competitive. This, he said, would also ensure better service and more cost-effectiveness for the consumers.
Chairing a preliminary meeting of the Transport Department to draft the new transport policy, the Chief Minister directed the concerned officials to explore the modalities for interstate route rationalization.
It was decided at the meeting to go for e-tendering on lucrative routes to make the business more viable and profitable, while providing a level-playing field to all players.
The draft policy, being prepared by the department, will be put before the state cabinet for approval soon, according to an official spokesperson, who added that the policy was being aligned to the directives and observations of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and Punjab & Haryana High Court. The policy is being drafted after taking views of Private Bus Operators, Mini Bus Operators, Officers from the STUs, Officers from the Road Transport Authority and Unions of the STU Staff.
In another step to eliminate the transport mafia, the Chief Minister suggested permits to have registration numbers of buses mentioned thereon for plying. He also suggested that GPS systems should be installed in all buses to ensure their effective tracking in order to prevent misuse of permits, which incidentally was rampant during the previous regime.
The Chief Minister also asked the department to work out the modalities of allowing transfer of permits after charging some fee. The transfer of permits was earlier allowed only on condemnation of a bus to a new bus or by way of inheritance.
Underlining his government’s commitment to provide employment, the Chief Minister suggested measures to augment the intra-city transport system by introducing permits for small/mini buses to youth under the 'Yaari Enterprise' and 'Apni Gaddi Apna Rozgar' schemes proposed in the Congress manifesto for employment generation. He instructed the Transport Department to put in place a concrete mechanism for this purpose, the spokesperson disclosed.
Captain Amarinder also directed the departments to incorporate operation of electric taxis, as well as road safety issues, in the state in the new transport policy. He also directed for strict action against under-age offenders on the road.
The meeting discussed the issue of disparity in taxes being levied on luxury and non-luxury business. Captain Amarinder asked the department to examine the issue and ensure rationalization of the tax structure. He suggested fixing a reference rate to make the structure more holistic and rational.
The Chief Minister directed the department officials to come up with a comprehensive plan to replace the outdated Punjab Roadways buses. Captain Amarinder also asked the department to coordinate and work closely with the Home Department on a unified emergency redressal system.
The new transport policy will be aimed at providing safe and convenient public transport, providing level playing field for private operators, keeping State Transport as a stabilizer and facilitating employment in the transport sector.
The Chief Minister also asked the officials to ensure that the new policy aims at improving the profitability of the STUs.
The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, Chief Principal Secretary to CM Suresh Kumar, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Sigh, Special Principal Secretary to the CM Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, Principal Secretary Transport Saravjit Singh, State Transport Commissioner Tanu Kashyap and Director Transport Bhupinder Singh.
— PTC News