Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Need for State Owned Public Conveyance Systems

Though the title of the article is indicative of public transport systems in general, I would like to concentrate on the need for state owned public transport systems on roads. It is particularly important because of the gigantic proportion that the vehicles on road own with respect to all crucial parameters such as total number, the number of  passengers it transport, the number of accidents it make, the volume of oil it consumes, and  share  in environment pollution. 

A major portion of air pollution is caused by Carbon Monoxide (CO) emission and on an average more that 80% of the Carbon Monoxide emission is caused by Motor Vehicles. It is a very dangerous situation. It affects all categories of people and weakens physical strength, vision, ability to perform complex functions, learning activities  etc. Since the efforts for alternate fuel are yet to provide effective alternatives for hydrocarbon-based fuels, the only solution before the world is to think about ways to cut down the consumption of hydrocarbon-based fuels. In this context, I think, the immediate attention (which is workable also) should be to introduce/maintain state owned mass passenger transport systems on roads.

The results from mass passenger transport systems that are operated very systematically will be immediate and visible.  For instance let us take the very simple example of a public transport bus with 40 passengers. We can say that a bus with 40 passengers has prevented, in most cases, 40 more vehicles from coming into streets at that time. In the absence of that bus (and no other bus) that 40 passengers would probably depend on a verity of 40 separate private vehicles like motorbikes, LMVs, MUVs,  SUVs etc. (of course,  we are not neglecting the fact that some people may share  their vehicles with others)

What is the real profit from a state owned road passenger transport system?

Lesser number of vehicles on roads, low percentage of accidents, lesser environment pollution, secured travel experience and affordable costs (that are really the social profits) are the real profit from a Public Conveyance System.

Only state can look into these social profits seriously, because  state's business is not to take profit from its people and invest it somewhere else. State's capital is a collective contribution of the society for its own maintenance and betterment.   However, unfortunately, the present trend is to conduct cost-benefit analysis of state owned public transport systems in terms of monitory gain alone  and conclude they are unprofitable paving way for their closure and ushering in  private players.

Definitely, the presence of private players will facilitate innovations in quality concepts through healthy competition to some extent. At the same time, monopoly of the private players in the service sectors will cause to undermine the social profit side of services. 

Therefore each government is required to show high-level commitment to operate state owned passenger transport systems on roads in an effective manner, especially when environment pollution has started to endanger the very existence of our green planet. The cost-benefit analysis in this sector should be to ensure the achievement of the social profits as discussed above. Periodic  Social Audits may also be conducted to ensure quality and efficiency.

Other ways of for efficient operation of these systems like introduction of ICT tools, involving accredited volunteers from among environmentalists etc may also be explored to. In fact, environmentalists have a good reason to support it based on the facts as discussed above. Services of sincere volunteers would be very much helpful to create a friendly, warm, and welcome environment in public services.

The Road Transport Systems may be planned based on well built policies on surface and water transport systems, so that all the systems like road transport including trams, various forms of water transport, various forms of metro rails, long distance rails etc can be developed and implemented in a mutually complementary/supplementary manner.

Related issues

When we look into the kind of vehicle density in major cities around the world, we can see that roads are being crowded chiefly with the thick flow of private motor cars and majority of these vehicles are used to transport one or two passenger (s) at a time. As per data available for 140 countries, with 2007 as base year, average number of passenger  cars per 1000 people is around 176. When we consider developed countries it  is more than 350 in each country. Please remember that it is about passenger cars alone. The number of vehicles that increase in thousands on each day in each city of the world forces the administrators to widen existing roads or build double-decked or triple-decked roads and more. But how far and how long we can keep on building road infrastructure in this manner?

Another point is the social impact. Whether it is widening or construction of multi-level roads, the net result is encroachment over the healthy environment of habitats around the area. This will gradually affect the physical, mental, social and cultural  well being of the people living there. Again in the context of global warming,  with all these concrete structures around the world , we are actually creating unimaginably large area of rocky surface  in our lovely planet. We have to practice intelligent refrain and restraint by implementing successful mass passenger transport systems on our roads.

Synopsis of the article was first published on Wednesday, August 26, 2009.
License: CC-BY-SA

1 comment:

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