“We need about 30 lakh buses to meet the requirement of general passengers. The ones run by the state transport entities are also operating at sub-optimal levels. So there is a huge gap,” Union transport secretary YS Malik said. Public transport experts said that the falling quality of service and non-availability of buses has also pushed people to own private vehicles both in urban and rural areas.
Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari said while China has about six buses for 1,000 people, India has only four buses per 10,000 people and about 90% Indians don’t own any vehicle.
They are dependent on shared mobility. So the answer lies in improving public transport. Private people should come forward for a model like Transport for London (TfL) here. I have urged manufacturers that apart from manufacturing buses you open an operator company. They will get business. If manufacturers like Tata, Ashok Leyland could invest and introduce a fleet of such buses, it can easily be run,” Gadkari said.
Experts in the urban transport sector said despite increasing penetration of Metro rail networks and cab services, a large chunk of people will use buses for commuting. In London, despite the intensity of rail network, about 62 lakh journeys out of the total 317 lakh per day are through buses, Shashi Verma, director of strategy and chief technology officer of TfL, said. Rail, underground (Metro) and light rail put together have about 74 lakh share of the total journey, Verma said.
Verma added that while the per-kilometre cost of running state transport buses in India is estimated around Rs 120-150 per kilometre, this can come down by half if private operators take up the task.