Reforming the private bus service
Monday’s Supreme Court order making it compulsory for private
bus crew to wear uniforms would be hailed by a much harried travelling public who had to put up much with the arrogance and
boorish behaviour of this tribe for too long.
It is hoped along with the uniform these bus crew will be
able to cultivate some decent manners and behave in a more
humane manner. But care should be exercised in respect of whom
this uniform is to be given.
In a current scenario where bus crew act as potty dictators
and is a law unto themselves a uniform may sometimes give them a
license to throw their weight around with more abandon. As it is
the commuters are undergoing enough harassment at the hands of
boisterous private bus operators.
On the other hand there may be bus crew who may not take
kindly to the Supreme Court order and may consider it infra dig.
The order is to be enforced from January 1 in the new year.But
it is time that Private bus operators are brought to heel to
prevent them from riding rough shod over hapless commuters.
Most of these private bus crew are semi educated youth given
to uncouth characteristics which the public has come to
experience in good measure. It is hoped that the Supreme Court
ruling would help curb their impetuosity and bring them down a
peg or two from their airy fairy ways.
More than anything the uniform would bring them into the
ambit of officialdom and make them fall in line with the rules
An enforced ‘official’ uniform for the private bus crew no
doubt would give them an aura of respectability.
However the issues that ail the private bus service go much
beyond donning their crew with official uniforms or introducing
ticket machines. What is needed most is to inculcate a sense of
discipline and acceptable conduct in these drivers and
conductors who have become a law unto themselves.
Today the bulk of road accidents is caused by private
passenger buses who use the highway as a race track to overtake
their fellow competitors. Profit is the name of game. These
death merchants carry on with impunity and are seldom brought to
The reason is obvious. Most of these Private buses are owned
by retired or serving police officers and the mayhem on the
highways goes unchecked. It is often left to angry mobs to
deliver summery justice on these killers on wheels by setting
the buses on fire after fatal accidents, which cannot be
condoned in any way.
Most private buses do not ply after dusk and keep off
unprofitable routes. The most affected are the far flung
villages which are cut off after late hours making it impossible
for the poor villagers to attend to emergencies such as
transporting the sick.
The lack of State run transport too does not help. Even in
urban areas private busses do not ply on certain routes posing
hardship to the public who are unable to get about their
business. Buses also wait for long periods at halts to pick up
passengers often resulting in arguments between commuters and
Most private buses also are responsible for noise pollution
blaring away equally uncouth music for the duration of the
journey to the great annoyance of the commuters. But the most
damaging aspect of private bus operators is frequent strikes
they resort to causing great hardship to the travelling public.
Today these operators have ganged themselves into a mafia in
attempting to brow beat the State to surrender to their demands.
The private bus service was hailed as the panacea to an
ailing state transport sector which was unable to cope with the
But it was also true that the SLCTB was deliberately run to
the ground by vested interests to make the entry of private bus
service inevitable. The massive over staffing, corruption and
indiscipline all took their toll on the SLCTB.
The private buses which came into fill the breach for a time
performed a satisfactory service. But it too was soon caught up
in a culture where profit at any cost became the motive.
It is hoped that the Supreme Court order would spell the
beginning for a radical reform of the private bus sector making
it a service that would deliver to the public.