Gadkari for privatisation of public transport

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New Delhi, Jan 31 (IANS) Making a strong pitch for privatisation of public transport system, especially buses, in Indian cities, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday said that state governments need to accept that they cannot run the system effectively and efficiently, and should adopt the London model of public-private partnership.

He said almost all state governments’ financial situation was very bad and neither they had money, nor banks were willing to lend to them. He said the credibility of state transport operators was so bad that petrol pumps donot want to fill the tanks of their buses as they do not pay for the diesel at the time of filling the tank.

“Except a few states, the condition of buses is so bad that except their horns, everything else makes sound. Let’s accept that we can’t run it. We should accept London’s transport model,” Gadkari said at the launch of Reimbursable Advisory Services (RAS) on public transport.

He said adopting the London transport model would lead to more people using public transport, and it would also be economically viable.

The London transport model is governed by a local government body but most of the responsibilities are contracted to private entities with over 17 operators working under a single brand as part of the public-private partnership.

“This is the correct model and after it is implemented, there won’t be need to help state transport either. My suggestion to all state government operators is that this is the appropriate time to accept the London transport model.

“Take a decision with transparency. This will reduce pollution, create more employment potential and reduce country’s oil import bill,” the Minister said.

Gadkari said only a good, comfortable public transport system can solve the urban problems of pollution and traffic congestion. He said there was a time when public transport accounted for 15 per cent of the total number of vehicles which had now reduced to only 1 per cent.

“That is because we have not been giving appropriate services to people. That is why we failed… I built 55 flyovers in Mumbai when I was a Minister there. My feeling was there will be no traffic jams after that. But now I see more traffic jams,” he said.

“More road construction (leads to) more number of cars (and) more traffic jam. This is a vicious cycle. We have to stop it and give a qualitative, varied, comfortable transport system to the poor,” he added.

–IANS

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