An Innovative Approach to Resurrect BEST Part2
The suggested Innovative Fare Structure is basically to enable every commuter of a BEST bus to buy a daily travel pass for Rs25 or termed as 24HourPass. In return, the commuter will get the opportunity to on any BEST route, any distance, any number of times by Ordinary, Limited or Express or even air-conditioned bus for 24 hours from the first boarding. Buses will ply without bus conductors, thereby releasing about 5,000 bus conductors in each shift. These conductors will issue the 24HourPass at the bus stops, in addition to tickets for Rs8 and Rs10 for those not inclined to purchase the 24HourPass.
 
One of the advantages for the commuter is that he can board a bus travelling in the direction of his commute, without waiting for his destination bus, then change to a bus that takes him to his destination. He can take a detour to attend to some task on the way. If most people did this, then the waiting time decreases considerably for all. However, the travel time itself is currently also dependent on the traffic speed. Buses will still be crowded and that can be addressed by increasing the frequencies. This is achievable by increasing the fleet size or by speeding up  travel time or both. Speeding up is possible by introducing dedicated bus-only lanes, better still by introducing Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS).
 
The shared taxi or auto services operate at attractive competitive rates to and from railway stations to specific locations. They seem to be cumulatively carrying a sizeable number of commuters, who would have otherwise taken the BEST bus. During an auto strike, little more than a year ago, the number of BEST commuters increased to 40 lakh straight away. Shared Auto schemes do not serve the needs of persons carrying luggage, as they have make their way from the auto drop point. Nor can they travel by bus. Carrying luggage with co-passengers also does not work out. These Share-Autos congest the roads to the station, whereby the buses serving rail commuters have poor turnaround time. During the auto strike, the bus turnaround time decreased considerably and the buses carried significantly larger number of commuters. 
 
Many commuters use aggregator taxi services. It is also a fact, especially on the Western Express Highway that many private taxi services or even private cars such as those used for airport drop, pickup passengers illegally from bus stops. The presence of conductors at these bus stops could stop the illegal pickups. 
 
At this suggested fare structure, the 28 lakh commuters will fetch an annual revenue of more than Rs2,250 crore to BEST, based on 300 working days and 65 Sundays and holidays per year, assuming that all sections will see the advantage of buying the 24HourPass. 
 
BEST’s annual expenditure on the transport wing is somewhere around Rs2,100 crore. This would mean the transport operations may not run in perpetual loss even at present situation with the suggested fare structure. If the daily commuter numbers increase to 40 lakh, then BEST’s annual revenue can rise to Rs3,250 crore, and if it increases to 50 lakh commuters, the revenues will increase to Rs4,100 crore.
 
How to achieve this is a million dollar question. Are we looking for safe and comfortable mobility, or only revival of BEST, or possibly both? 
 
Before addressing this question, it would be well to keep certain additional data before us. The MMRDA’s CTS-2008 tells us that the suburban rail service carries about 75 lakh passengers per day. It also tells us that during the peak period, the commuters travelling on the suburban railway system number 3,60,000 passengers per hour (pph). However, the railway capacity is barely 1,80,000 pph. Because of overcrowding,  4,000 people die every year. Due to certain measures initiated by public interest litigation (PIL) and citizens’ pressures, this has come down by 10%. At that time, BEST carried 45 lakh passengers every day. Due to road congestion and other reasons mentioned earlier, the number of bus travellers has come down to 28 lakh.
 
To address that situation, a 146.5km Mumbai Metro Master Plan (MMMP) was conceived in 2004. However, the capacity it would provide was only 72,000 pph. Having taken eight years to complete the 11.4km of one line, the authorities have increased the lengths and capacity of Metro Plan in recent amendments to 172km and capacity to 98,000 pph, even as the need still is as high as 1,80,000 pph. There is now an ambitious plan to complete this in six years’ time. There are several reasons why this is unlikely to happen and therefore we must prepare for the worst scenario. This simply means that we must keep before us a target of public transport that has the capacity of 2,00,000 pph.
 
One of the way to improve the speeds of BEST bus service is to operate buses in a bus-only lane. To prevent non-BEST bus vehicles using this bus-only lane, the 5,000 conductor staff, who now would be issuing tickets or the 24HourPass at the bus stops, could be tasked to take photographs of defaulting vehicles and let e-challan system of Traffic Police do the rest. True, not all city roads can have a bus lane, but these would be short stretches hence affecting only marginally in slowing down of buses. This itself is good enough to attract back some of the commuters. If a BRTS network is provided instead of just Bus-only lanes, not only would the needed capacity of 2,00,000 pph be achieved, but speeds could be between 30kmph to 40kmph, as has been achieved in Bogota, the capital of Columbia. 
 
Taking all these into consideration, the following steps could be initiated by stakeholders such as Government of India, BEST, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), Government of Maharashtra and its bodies such as Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Maharashtra State Road Development Corp Ltd (MSRDC), Public Works Department (PWD) and Mumbai Metro Rail Corp Ltd (MMRCL), who are supposed to be collectively concerned with mobility, environment and quality of life of every citizen.
 
1. Every vehicle has to go to fuel stations. At these fuel stations a photograph of the vehicle number plate will be clicked, which will get sent automatically to the Traffic Police/RTA and check on violation of traffic rules and same shall be given to the car owner / driver as a consolidated challan and the fines recovered along with the payment for fuel. This will be linked with the e-challans being issued by the Mumbai Police. Repeat violations should get publicised to let people to know that punitive actions are being taken. Of course, this is part of Traffic Police, the RTA and arrangement with the fuel stations.
 
2. Get the 24HourPass scheme started. Sale of 24HourPass will be only at bus stops, where one could also get the Rs8 and Rs10 tickets issued. These would be sold by Bus Conductors who will no longer travel in the bus in accordance with the suggested scheme. The 24HourPass will have to be issued on any government or BEST issued photo id whose number would get printed clearly and so also the pass expiry time.
 
3. In addition to the sale of 24HourPass, the conductors stationed at bus stops will take photographs of any vehicle that is parked or travelling on the bus lane and automatically it would get forwarded to the BEST HQ for records and the traffic police and the RTA for taking further action. This could be linked with the Mumbai Police e-challan scheme introduced recently
 
4. Provide bus lanes wherever possible keeping in mind that by providing this the buses will travel more speedily, will be able to have higher frequency and carry more people per hour. Conductors will monitor that these Bus-only lanes will be used by buses only as described above.
 
5. Revoke the share taxi and auto scheme and decongest the station area of the autos and taxis. Only auto or taxi that is hired by individuals will be allowed to ply in Greater Mumbai. The last mile connectivity from bus stops to final destination could then be by walk or auto or taxi depending upon distances from the bus stop.
 
6. Design roads with primacy given to pedestrians and interfaces between walking and other modes of travel, especially public transport and para-public transport. Design shall be to permit non-motorized transport vehicles to travel safely and causing minimal hindrance to faster moving vehicles on primary roads such as express highways and link roads.
 
7. Create a network of BRTS that will collectively provide an hourly capacity of 2,00,000 pph in the North-South directions.
 
Railways have already reached their full capacity in the present state of their infrastructure and cannot augment their capacity significantly and quickly. BEST can ween away as many as 35 lakh railway commuters by adopting a comprehensive BRTS. This would mean that there is a potential to carry as many as 75 lakh persons per day. If achieved, the revenue could be as high as 75lakh/day x 300days x Rs25 + 25 lakh/day x 65days x Rs25 = Rs562,500 lakh + Rs40,625 lakh = Rs603,125 lakh = Rs6,031 crore/year.
 
The above computations and the ones in earlier parts do indicate that the targets of (i) providing adequate public transport capacities, (ii) addressing the annual casualties of 3,600 on suburban railway system, (iii) providing safe and comfortable and speedy road public transport, (iv) resurrecting BEST are quite achievable. Does it not demand that the suggested scheme of 24HourPass and BRTS be considered seriously? This is where the will of the decision makers to move away from the conventional conservative approach of increasing bus fares and curtailing existing concessions and subsidies comes into picture. 
 
(Sudhir Badami is a civil engineer and transportation analyst. He is on Government of Maharashtra’s Steering Committee on BRTS for Mumbai and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s Technical Advisory Committee on BRTS for Mumbai. He is also member of Research & MIS Committee of Unified Mumbai Metropolitan Transport Authority. He was member of Bombay High Court appointed erstwhile Road Monitoring Committee (2006-07). While he has been an active campaigner against Noise for more than a decade, he is a strong believer in functioning democracy. He can be contacted on email at sudhirbadami@gmail.com )
 
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    Death of the academician
    The moment you say that you have entered academics, people often exclaim, “How lucky you are! You get so many leaves… So, enjoy!” But sadly nothing can be farther from the truth. As the adage goes, the grass on the other side always seems to be green.
     
    Often in my interactions with different business schools in India, the one thing that I have often come across is institutes trying to enhance productivity but struggling with the same. Lecturers and professors expect salaries on par with industry but they never ponder to think if their productivity matches with that of those in the industry. There are so many breaks in the academic calendar in a b-school. Unlike undergraduate courses or courses in junior colleges where the pressure is immense, the scenario in a business school is vastly different.
     
    Why do students enrol for a course like Master in Business Administration (MBA)? They want to enhance their employability. As corporates are least bothered about the percentage or marks scored by students in the MBA program, students consider the two years of MBA programs as a pleasure ride. Now I am writing this based on my experience of interacting with business schools in Chennai, Bangalore and Pune. One cannot generalise saying that all business schools are struggling with productivity issues and neither can you say that all students who enrol for a MBA program join the program only to relax. As is the case, in every business school, there are engaged employees – professors and lecturers passionate about teaching. It is a matter that their efforts often go unrecognised. There are also dedicated, committed and diligent students who pursue a MBA program to shine in their professional career (please note that I am not at all referring to the Indian Institutes of Management -IIMs here).
     
    When there are no classes, what should the teaching faculty do? Any dynamic individual who is the Head of the Department or holds the position of the Director would do well to devise means to make the employees more productive. But dynamism and age are inversely related. Why would a younger person who is more dynamic and energetic join an educational institution as a director unless the emoluments that he receives are attractive?
     
    Such pitiable working conditions eventually lead to semi-retired or retired individuals holding the position of HOD or Dean or Director and while they do all they can to ensure academic discipline, they are often saddled with arcane perceptions about productivity. Just grumble, grumble and grumble more about lack of productivity among the faculty members! Or those who have become senile talk nineteen to the dozen boring the listeners to death with their past achievements!
     
    No leader can complain about lack of productivity. If employees are unproductive, it is the leader who has to squarely accept the blame on his shoulder. If tasks are not assigned to individuals, there are no key performance indicators (KPIs) and if the reward is in no way related to the performance (and is based more on perception), then one can never expect a surge in productivity. Productivity failure of employees is the failure of leadership. Successful people are associated with action and those who cannot act but simply indulge in carping are by no means successful even though they may occupy position of authority. 
     
    The problems faced by many business schools (the second tier schools) are more universal than specific. Many colleges have not implemented the sixth pay commission. There is no performance bias. Student evaluation of faculty performance is done in a subjective fashion that further ends up demoralising the teaching fraternity. Why would anyone want to become an academician in a business school – with a poor pay, absence of any motivation, lack of insurance and overemphasis on student feedback? In most business schools, either the promoter is the dormant-type or he enjoys micro managing the affairs. 
     
    There are no eligibility criteria for enrolment of students in a business school. Under the management quota, even students scoring 50% marks in their graduation are offered admission to the MBA program with the sole intention of filling up the seats. If you expect such students to score well in quantitative subjects (most of them having dropped mathematics after Class X) and  in subjects that need them to write well it is not going to happen. Vernacular medium students find it so hard to speak and write in English not because they cannot learn – but because they lack the will to learn.
     
    As more and more talented people leave academics, it is only the dull who will continue to work as professors and lecturers. Unless business schools have a clear-cut agenda for improving productivity, they cannot differentiate between good performers and non-performers. Unless they take actions to do this, performance of business school will not improve, as the business school will churn out mediocre students year after year. This will dilute the placement quality in the business school, erode the brand value and finally this will affect the number of student enrolments in the future.
     
    Why do people waste time?
    • They have nothing else to do but talk, chitchat, review, discuss and debate about everything that is outside the bounds of academics.
    • People know that they are not going to benefit by productive use of time and they are not going to be penalised for wasting time.
    • It becomes a habit! How will you feel if you have a monthly salary for two-three  months wherein all that you need to do is to talk and talk and talk?
    • They have little respect for what the leader says!
     
    In one college in Pune where I was teaching International human resources management (HRM) and Talent Management, a new director who joined the business school worked wonders in reviving the moribund institution that was devoid of energy or excitement! That the person was under 50 years of age was a true blessing.
     
    Here is what he did:
    1.      Stopped carrying tales of one faculty member to another!
    2.      Discussions with faculty member were laced with professionalism!
    3.      Every faculty member was given a KPI chart that they had to comply with.
    4.      Every three months, every faculty member had to give a presentation to the Promoter/ a person nominated by the Promoter about his achievements in the last three months.
    5.      Performance weightage was given to those who were responsive in terms of completing the course on time, submitting the session plans, question papers and mark sheets on time and were also acknowledged as good teachers.
    6.      A close circuit TV (CCTV) camera was installed in the faculty room so that the faculty members who excelled in wasting time and distracting others could be easily spotted.
    7.      Faculty members who were moonlighting with other tasks were shown the door (example – some lecturers who were working as brokers, recruitment agents, and insurance agents and were found to be misusing office infrastructure and official working hours were clearly identified and action was taken against them).
    8.      Each faculty member had to submit a research paper every six months failing which they were not eligible for any increments.
    9.      Faculty members were encouraged to teach diverse subjects. A professor of marketing cannot expect to teach the same subject forever, using the same set of power point slides to teach one batch of students after other. Every semester, a faculty member had to choose one core paper or a general management subject apart from the subjects of his specialisation.
     
    Needless to add, the director faced lot of resistance but the promoter was by his side! The director was fair and unbiased and proved to everyone that he was a man of action. He was a quick decision maker and swiftly acted on emails sent. Some of the weeds were removed from the faculty room so that good plants could flourish! Today the college holds a top rank among all the business schools in Pune.
     
    Unless we have such dynamic and energetic people holding positions of power in business schools, the death of the true academician is certain.
     
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    COMMENTS

    Mahesh S Bhatt

    2 years ago

    Most of Educational Institutes are Sharad Pawar International School/D Y Patil/MET Chaggan Bhujbal.. list endless.they have converted into Money making machines and argument is Upper Class Indian pays 30 lacs for Stanford /Havard University why not 15 lacs for Indian University? Salaries are delayed after Dec till next May.Passion to Teach & Learn theoretical They do get outside professionals but pay scales are challenging to retain.Recession has added to woes so many colleges have lesser enrollments Donations galore So Mixed bag Mahesh Bhatt

    Abhijit Gosavi

    2 years ago

    Exactly what I had thought (based on what I had heard). #8 is a good suggestion/starting point. Next, start attending international academic conferences (INFORMS for quantitative management) and start professionally run domestic conferences. Finally, submit papers to international journals. Will change the culture & *vastly* improve teaching. Case studies from Indian industry (service or manufacturing) will be of huge interest and will be likely published.

    PS: No wonder I don't see anyone from even the IIMs at our main conference (INFORMS), though they have all these management departments.

    An Innovative Approach to Resurrect BEST Part1
    Efforts are on by officers in BrihanMumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking ( BEST) to reduce its losses. As on date, BEST has made two proposals, both centred around increasing the bus fares. The first is increasing the minimum fare from Rs8 to Rs10 and removing concessions being currently offered, discontinuing services of buses heavy on maintenance and not recruiting new staff on retirement of about 1,600 employees this year. Outsourcing staff just to ‘save’ BEST is being pursued.
     
    The second proposal only hikes the minimum fare to Rs12. Both proposals do not look at improving services. The fare hike proposal apparently has been motivated by the thinking that the number of BEST commuters has touched rock bottom, are captive and can afford the hike. There is no vision to improve service in terms of reducing congestion in the buses and waiting periods at bus stops. The objective appears to merely survive and not to grow.  
     
    Here is an innovative plan that looks at quality of life and people’s mobility.
     
    BEST historically has been a transport service provider in the first decade of the twentieth century. But electricity generation was a natural corollary to operate the erstwhile horse driven tramcars by using electric motors. Since BEST was purchasing electricity in bulk, it began supplying the surplus to private consumers in Bombay, as it was known then. With the passage of time, the electricity supply section became as important as the transport section. So long as Mumbai remained a public transport-dominated society, BEST’s transport wing was able to operate a self-sustaining transport service. 
     
    With the opening up of the Indian economy in 1991 and  Maruti and subsequently a host of car manufacturers entering the market, the roads began to get congested. Initially the peak period used to be, as one says it, the peak hour. Today, it is three to four hours. In the evening peak period, it takes about four-and-a-half hours to travel from Churchgate to Borivali, a distance of 43km, averaging a speed of less than 10kmph. During the 110-odd monsoon days, it drops further to about 8kmph. 
     
    At such low speeds, bus passengers are subjected to tremendous hardship. Firstly, due to mostly unusable footpaths, walking to even the nearest bus stop is not safe or comfortable. Peak period bus timings would become unpredictable and waiting was long. When the bus did arrive, often it would be packed, resulting in a further wait for a less congested bus. 
     
    On Fare Structure – current and suggested herein
     
    The Table below shows the prevailing bus fare (revised on 1 July 2016). 
     
     
    The minimum adult fare is Rs8 for a travel distance of 2km, Rs10 for the up to 4km, Rs14 for trip up to 6km, Rs16 for trip up to 8km and Rs18 for trip up to 10km. Though many routes are long distance, most people probably travel between 3km to 10km. This is evident from the fact that 57% of the population resides within 3km of their place of work, 69% within 5 km and 82% within 10km. The Comprehensive Transport Study Report of 2008 (CTS-2008) of Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) also states that 44% of the population does not use any mode of transport and 3% use non-motorised mode.
     
    People find walking in general beyond 1.5km not comfortable and 5km is a reasonable distance for cycling.
     
    It would be reasonable to assume that 10% within the 3km range, 12% in the 3km to 5km range and 13% between 5km to 10km range use motorized road and rail transport, totalling 35%. The remaining 18% would generally comprise rail and private motorized modes, for travels beyond 10kms though some would still be using the road public transport.
     
    If we wish to estimate number of people spending Rs20 per day or less on travel in BEST, one will have to get the actual ticket sales of values of Rs8 and Rs10 per day. However, with the above statistics, it could be 10%x(1/3) + 12%x(0.35) + 13%x(0.25) = 3.33% + 4.2% + 3.25% = 10.78% i.e. 13.5 lakh commuters. It is said that about 65% of BEST commuters are short distance travellers. This comes to about 18 lakh commuters. Currently total BEST commuters number about 28 lakh. This used to be 45 lakh just about four years back. There are several reasons that can be attributed to this fall, some because of extraneous reasons and some due to conservative attitudes of BEST and the Maharashtra Government policy implementation.
     
    It is part of this 18 lakh commuters, provided they do not make an additional bus-boarding, who will be paying more per day if they were to accept an innovative fare structure being suggested here. Will they be gaining out of this fare structure? Will this innovative fare structure benefit  all current BEST bus commuters and also attract more? Will BEST benefit? What is this innovative fare structure? This will be discussed in the next part of sdthisarticle.
     
    (Sudhir Badami is a civil engineer and transportation analyst. He is on Government of Maharashtra’s Steering Committee on BRTS for Mumbai and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s Technical Advisory Committee on BRTS for Mumbai. He is also member of Research & MIS Committee of Unified Mumbai Metropolitan Transport Authority. He was member of Bombay High Court appointed erstwhile Road Monitoring Committee (2006-07). While he has been an active campaigner against Noise for more than a decade, he is a strong believer in functioning democracy. He can be contacted on email at sudhirbadami@gmail.com )

     

     

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    COMMENTS

    Sudhir P Badami

    2 years ago

    This is Part 1 of two part article

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