State-run transport corporations across India are known for being loss-making entities.
According to the Ministry of Road Transport’s Annual Report 2018-19, 55 SRTUs reported a combined loss of Rs 14,213.34 crore in the financial year 2016-17.
As of August 2019, the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) had accumulated losses of Rs 5,270 crore and loans of nearly Rs 1,800 crore and as on May 2019, the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) had accumulated losses of Rs 6,445 crore.
The Uttar Pradesh State Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) was also not in great shape, when Yogi Adityanath took oath as the Chief Minister in March 2017.
In 2013-14, UPSRTC had a loss of Rs 132 crore.
Under Adityanath, UPSRTC clocked a record profit of Rs 123 crore in FY 2017-18. In the current financial year 2019-2020, by January itself, the UPSRTC has touched a profit of Rs 83 crore.
This was achieved by expanding services to new routes, exploiting technology to the fullest, cracking down on unsafe and unauthorised private bus services, saving on expenditure, tapping effectively on non-fare revenue and providing quality experience to passengers.
This is how the Yogi Adityanath administration went about this project.
First, 38,000 unserved villages in Uttar Pradesh, where UPSRTC has not reached in the last 72 years of its formation, were targeted.
By smartly re-engineering and re-routing the routes of the existing buses, almost 26,000 new villages were included in the routes of UPSRTC fleet by January 2020.
To everyone’s surprise, these new rural routes provided the ‘bus occupancy’ of 80-85 per cent, as compared to the average 60 per cent bus occupancy of UPSRTC. This in turn increased the revenue of the state corporation without much extra expenditure.
UPSRTC also did strategic agreements with neighbouring states, so that passengers could do long-distance inter-state travel. This opened a new revenue stream for the corporation. Agreements were entered into with Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir and also with Nepal in the last three years.
Another big problem the UPSRTC and UP Transport department faced was the loss of revenue because of unauthorised private bus services. Such buses were mostly being run by unscrupulous private players, without permit and without following any safety norms.
Before 2017, only 751 routes (20,044 km) were formulated. In the last three years, 93,838 routes 2,42,699 km) have been formulated by the Yogi Adityanath government.
This formulation of routes is helping check the unauthorised private bus services (a.k.a. Daggamari in UP) and now passengers are moving back to UPSRTC.
Better contracts for canteens and shops at more than 250 bus stations and advertisement rights on its 12,000 plus buses made the corporation tap into the non-fare revenue stream.
Usage of technology played a big role in revival of UPSRTC. Electronic Vehicle Tracking, e-ticketing through Integrated Transport Management System (ITMS), Smart Cards for regular commuters, provided levers to Adityanath’s officials to keep track of each and every bus.
40 per cent of UPSRTC’s operational expenditure is on fuel. Pilferage of fuel is a common problem in the transport sector. UPSRTC adopted a sensor-based Automated Fuel Management System in a tie-up with Indian Oil, to check fuel pilferage.
To attract more passengers to UPSRTC bus services, the Yogi Adityanath government has taken a series of measures to improve the service quality and safety of passengers.
Measures like ensuring availability of two drivers for long distance and night journeys on national highways and expressways, compulsory health and eye check-up of drivers for the safety of passengers, equipping depots and on-route inspection teams with breathalyzers to completely rule out the possibility of drunken driving, ensuring a 13-point technical check-up and a 31-point fitness check-up of all buses and deploying speed governors in all buses to avoid accidents are increasing the confidence of passengers in UPSRTC.
Pilot initiatives like Water ATMs at bus stands, child care rooms at bus stands, Meal on Road app and Divyang Stalls, Twitter-Seva and toll free number for passenger feedback, 52 Pink buses with CCTVs and panic buttons for women passengers are returning an encouraging response.
Improving the quality and hygiene of bus stands is one major step taken by the Yogi Adityanath government.
Most of the bus stands are at prime locations and so, developing bus stands on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode is an initiative the government is working on.
Moving to the Uttar Pradesh Road Transport Department, it has taken a complete digital RTO avatar.
Under the current state government, UP has become the first state to adopt hundred percent e-challans, first to start issuing all Pollution Under Check (PUC) certificates through an online system, and the second state after Haryana to issue 100 per cent of permits to commercial vehicles online.
Currently in UP, 100 per cent of the driving licence application process is online, 100 per cent of new vehicle registration process is online, using Sarathi and Vahan platforms of the central government.
To further reduce human intervention and corruption in issue of driving licences, the state has started installing sensor-based Automated Driving Testing Tracks (ADTT).
Automated tracks are already functional in Kanpur and Bareilly and 20 more such tracks are coming soon.
Such governance and technology initiatives have not gone unnoticed.
The UPSRTC won many awards in the last three years for its stellar performance. ASRTU, Delhi, has awarded UPSTRC the “Profit Making STU’ award in 2018.
ICEPTI-2020 awarded UPSRTC the National Public Transport Excellence Award-2019, for its rural connectivity drive.
Six depots of UPSRTC got the Best Depot Award for petroleum conservation by PCRA in 2019.
In March 2019, UPSRTC got the ELETS Award for the effective usage of IT in implementation of citizen-centric services.
UPSRTC also made it to the Guinness Book of World Records by parading a chain of 503 buses together at the last Kumbh in Prayagraj.
The 15th finance commission especially mentioned that the net earnings of the UPSRTC have started moving to a positive trajectory from 2017-18 and there have been significant improvements in the earnings per km and significant reductions in cost per km.
The contrast with previous regimes can be easily understood by the fact that Gayatri Prajapati, Transport Minister of the previous Akhilesh Yadav government, is in jail on charges of rape and molestation,while in 2018, the then Transport Minister of the Adityanath government, Swatantra Dev Singh, got the ‘Transport Minister of the Year’ award by SKOCH.
Yogi Adityanath completed three years in office on 19 March 2020 and many leaders can learn a lot from this saffron-clad Yogi.