The public transportation system of a city speaks a lot about its infrastructure. The best thing about Delhi is that, every day I travel around some 30-40 kilometers and yet I find myself in no hassle, both in terms of cost and efficiency. There was a line that went viral in Facebook, it said: “The Development of a county is not judged by the number of people travelling in cars, but by the number of people travelling in public transport”.
Indeed, if we can make the elitist of the classes travel in the public transport alongside the just other middle class, which indicates world class facilities at a very efficient cost.
My recent visit to Guwahati saw some heated issues related to Public Transportation, particularly the intra city transport system. Just like Delhi, Guwahati has a well systematic city bus service. With double digit bus routes, the people of the city can reach out to any place quite conveniently, ignoring the time and infrastructure factor. Other than the city buses, we also have the autos and some other local shared transportation system. I choose not to talk about the taxi system as talking about Guwahati Taxis is way off reach (you would learn the subsequently).
Now apart from the quantity and infrastructure difference, the next most important factor demarcating public transport system of Guwahati and Delhi are the fares. Bus fares are relatively similar, with minimum fare in Delhi being Rs. 5 while it is 4 in Guwahati. However, the auto fare enjoys a difference of 50:200 ratios. In a simpler way, the fare for a distance in Delhi if is Rs. 50, then in Guwahati it would be Rs. 200. Thus seeing someone taking an auto in the city indicates, either he/she is too rich or helpless or most likely new to the city.
The heated issue I gave a hint before was related particularly to the city buses, the most used public transport in the city. The City bus association of the city demanded a rise in the bus fares across the city.
Unlike any government body like DTC, Guwahati has its own private transportation body that works in accordance to the State Transport Corporation. This body is owned by the bus owners and some business organizations. Now as the Government is obsessed with its frequent fuel price hikes, the heat once again is felt by the common public.
Again, since the city bus owners belong to a part of the common public and the so such subsidy is provided to them in terms of the fuel refilling, hence with the increase of the prices they decided to hike the bus fares. And any hike calls for some drama, and so thus this. The transport minister called this hike illegitimate and the bus organizations threaten a three day long boycott.
I have no clue about what the internal politics is or how legitimate the fare hike is. All I am concerned is about the cost of transportation in the city. Being in Delhi, at times I travel almost 50-60 kilometers a day. But the efficiency both in terms of service and cost is so well balanced that I don’t twice about using any of the public transport service.
However, if I happen to do the same, I got to think. Now city buses are quite ok. But there are places where you would like to avoid buses and switch to some other modes like Auto. And as I told, taking and auto in Guwahati is a task of bravery. And the biggest joke would be if someone asks the driver to use the meter. In Guwahati, autos can be called a luxury. And this pushes the taxis way out of the scene.
What is actually the solution to this? How to reduce the travelling cost and fare of the transport means. Well, many people might suggest many, but I believe it’s high time that CNG should be introduced in the city. The most distinguishing factor between the transport means of Delhi and Guwahati is the CNG. The cost efficiency of the transport medium in Delhi can all be credited to CNG. It’s less polluting and cheap.
Thus, I see CNG as a probable solution to this daily fight of fares hike in Guwahati, and as for the Autos are concerned. Also with the introduction of it, the meter system of the autos can also be implemented as done in other places of the country making communication far cheap. I would love to see auto carry passengers in bulk in the city streets. Concerned authorities, please give it a thought.