UITP India Office, in collaboration with Business Sweden and Volvo, organised Round Table discussion on PPP: The key to scaling up North East India’s public transport network. The event was hosted by the Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC).
North East (NE) India is truly a land of opportunity – be it economic, cultural or strategic. It also encompasses considerable diversity across multiple geographies and communities. In such a dynamic scenario, it is transport that connects people with people and business with business. NE has 8 percent of India’s land mass and 3.7 percent of population. Government of India is investing INR 1.5 trillion to build 10,000km 2 and 4 lane roads in the north east.
Bus transport is the main mode of transport in NE region. Unfortunately, most of the states in the NE region do not have good transport service. Assam State Road Transport Corporation is the largest public operator in North-east region. On the strength of 2,206 buses as well as 3,236 employees, have been privileged to serve this wonderful state and indeed the region for almost five decades now.
The key objective of the roundtable discussion was to bring all stakeholders on the common platform to discuss the development of bus transport in the region. Also, the key role played by private operators. The event was attended by state representatives from 5 NE states (Assam, Tripura, Arunchal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur), Business Sweden, WRI, KPMG, Hinduja Finance, Private Operators, OEMs and Volvo.
Some of the key takeaways of the discussion are:
1. Setting up North East Region Coordination Committee – It was proposed by MD, ASTC to setup a coordination committee for all NE states. This will help to resolve all bus transport related issues at regional level including route planning, fare fixation, infrastructure development etc.
2. Multilateral Agreement – All stakeholders proposed to push for multilateral route agreement for inter-state bus services among all states, instead of bi-lateral agreement. This will allow free movement of buses in different cities acorss the region.
3. Promoting PPP (Partnership – Partnership – Partnership) – It is important to structure contract to enable the sustainablity of the private partner. The role of public authority should be to create required infrastucture and faciliate movement. The private operator should be responsible for the operation, without revenue risk or minimal revenue risk.
4. Creation of a North East Regional Urban Transport Fund – The idea was discussed to setup dedication fund to finance urban public transport infrastructure in the region. The fund will help to bring state and central governments, infrastructure providers, private operators and financiers on the same platform.
5. Discovery of new routes in keeping with extensive road building programme. Each members shared some viable routes between different cities. It was proposed to conduct route plannig at regional level. For example, there is big opportunity to operate bus service between Guwahati airport to Shillong and Tawang to Guwahati.
6. Operationalizing PPPs in bus terminal development – States do not have required expertise and fundings to develop bus terminal. It was proposed to identify policy & institutional barriers for the participation of private developer. For example, ASTC has commercialised multi-level parking and set up a fuel pump. Gujarat has developed done with bus ports with shopping malls and parking lots.