Dr. Susmit Kumar, Ph.D.

The Modi administration choice for London model for India’s public transport infrastructure is a wrong choice. As per Nitin Gadkari, Union minister for  Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, the London model of transportation system, in which 17 private operators offer services, does not require investment and is a professional one and can offer solutions for frequent traffic jams, pollution and accidents in India (India's public transport infra to be developed on London model: Gadkari, The Tribune, January 31, 2019).

 

The question is – Have they done comparative study of public transport systems world-wide? In majority of metropolis, world-wide, they have government-run transport system and they get substantial subsidies from the government to keep the fares low, especially for buses. In nearly all major cities in the US, the local government runs the public transport and they provide substantial subsidies (for an example read San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Wikipedia). Beijing (China) has public buses - in 2015, the entire network consisted of 876 routes with a fleet of 24,347 buses and trolleybuses carried 3.98 billion passengers annually (Beijing Bus, Wikipedia). RAPT Group is a Government of France owned public transport agency which not only runs significant number of buses in Paris, but also they  operate bus, tram, rapid transit and inter-city rail services in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. RATP Group is currently the world's fifth largest operator in the public transport sector (RATP Group, Wikipedia). RATP operates 63 bus lines within the city of Paris proper, and 214 bus lines in Paris suburbs. In 2014, 983 million journeys were made on RATP bus lines, including 330.7 million journeys on Paris lines and 652.3 million journeys on suburbs lines (Bus (RATP), Wikipedia).

 

For the information of the Union Minister Mr. Gadkari, significant number of 17 private bus operators in London are public-owned overseas operators; three out of the 17 bus operators in London are owned by the French government-owned RATP Group.

 

People need to shed the mentality of running the government as a company for profit. Buses are used mainly by poor and lower income people. England’s lowest income people make 75 per cent of their public transport trips by bus. If we divide the population up into five groups – from the lowest income, to the highest income – then the lowest income group makes three times as many bus trips as the highest income group. By comparison, the highest income group make 20 per cent fewer public transport trips and 75 per cent more private transport trips (Why are Britain’s buses in crisis?, August 24, 2018).

 

The Indian administration needs to stop large-scale privatization otherwise the country is going to witness massive unemployment. Privatization is a job-killer and creates millionaires and billionaires by getting rid of middle class jobs. Large scale privatization in US has resulted in massive loss of middle class jobs. The US economy is surviving mainly because its currency is over-valued; once China replaces the US dollar with its own currency Yuan as the global currency, the US would witness decades of great economic depression which Russia witnessed in 1990s (please read my article: India Needs An “Indian” Economic Policy).

 

Both Capitalism and Communism have serious defects. The then super-power Soviet Union, despite being a military super-power, with significant number of aircraft carriers, submarines, military aircrafts and tanks, second only to the US, suddenly collapsed in 1991 due to a severe CAD (Current Account Deficit) problem (please read my article Communism Collapsed Due to Collapse in Oil Price in Late 1980’s and German Banks – Not Due to Reagan). It is worth noting that even the CIA had no inkling that the Soviet Union would collapse in 1991. Hence India needs to come up with an “Indian Economic Policy” if it wants to survive.

 

Under the London model, the bus fares, all over India, would sky-rocket.

 

The Modi administration needs to find ways to make public-sector organizations efficient and accountable rather than going for large scale privatization.

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