Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Private vs Government- on bus service

The post on Volvos set me thinking on the bus services that existed (still do) and competed (still do). There were basically two sets of operators in most states in India, private and government owned RTCs with certain demarcation on routes. The new Volvo services are not so much different on either operator, except that the government buses follow a government depot to government depot service (meaning, they could drop you off at some far off point in certain cities).

But having travelled in both these types of buses, it has been my experience that the government service is usually better. For one, the drivers are better (on an average). Government buses dont bother if they cant fill a few seats ( the private guy would usually beg every passer by to get in). The reputed private transport guys are not so bad, but they use their buses as some sort of a mini trucking service and stop en route to pick up luggage and packages here and there. Both stop at relatively nondescript dhabas for food. Government buses are usually, better maintained and even today, if possible, I prefer to take an RTC service than a private service.

While there has been (and can be) considerable debate on whether the government really has any business running buses and trains, unfettered competition with ill regulated rules does not bode well for the consumer. Anybody has ridden on the private buses in Kerala ( or Delhi for that matter) will vouch for this. The presence of a benign competitor (who doesnt really focus only on making a profit and this can only be done by government services) can perhaps be a steadying force in certain markets.

4 comments:

shank said...

A continuation on the same thought. I always had the feeling that the pilots of Indian Airlines/Air India were much better than that of Air Deccan or Jet. Now, Indian Airlines has gone for a revamp of sorts, the Air Hostess (yah a typical crib for all male passengers) have been replaced by their younger counterparts. Lets see what change does this bring!!!!

shank said...

A continuation on the same thought. I always had the feeling that the pilots of Indian Airlines/Air India were much better than that of Air Deccan or Jet. Now, Indian Airlines has gone for a revamp of sorts, the Air Hostess (yah a typical crib for all male passengers) have been replaced by their younger counterparts. Lets see what change does this bring!!!!

Karthik R said...

My experience has been the opposite. Private bus service in TN is waaaaay better than the government's. The drivers seem to be better, the buses are well maintained and clean and ride (in spite of the roads) is better as well.

The only place I can see government buses being of any service at all is in plying on financially unremunerative routes. Otherwise, they are losing money hand over fist with all the attendant corruption issues. That money could be utilised in improving the infrastructure.

Fares are regulated by the government in any case. So, there need be any worries about unscruplous operators fleecing the passengers. As for "over-loading" of passengers and acting as luggage carriers, the authorities usually turn the other way - in return for some 'consideration' of course.

All in all, from my experience in TN, the government should get out of the way and open the sector to the rpivate operators. The biggest losers will be the unions, who are currently paid well. May be the givernment could set some 'minimum wage' for the drivers, conductors et al (life insurance as well). I'll stop now!!

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