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APSRTC gearing up for Metro Rail

APSRTC gearing up  for Metro Rail
Highlights

Both will complement each other rather than compete You took official charge with focus on removing illegal private operators plying on highway...

Both will complement each other rather than compete

You took official charge with focus on removing illegal private operators plying on highway income routes. Have you been successful? Invasion of private buses in all important routes is one of the major reasons for the losses that amount to Rs 560 core. The recent crackdown undertaken by the Transport department has improved the revenue of the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC). Private operators are violating the rules and indulging in malpractices. A joint inspection will be taken up by the APSRTC and the Transport department to curb the menace of private operators in stage carriage routes.

A total of 31 inspectors have been appointed to check the menace. Initiatives have been taken to improve the revenue by increasing the occupancy, better maintenance and better coordination in the organisation at various levels. In a democratic country like India we have to keep in view various issues to combat problems. After the Shirdi bus tragedy, public has become aware that government run services mean safety. More and more people have opted for the APSRTC now.

Is Metro Rail a competition to APSRTC? Metro Rail is not a competition to the bus services. It is a misconception that the metro rail will affect the APSRTC adversely, but that is not the case. The Metro Rail would be operated in three corridors of the twin cities. The demand for public transportation services keep increasing every year, particularly on the fringes. But Metro Rail cannot be taken to all corners. This is where the RTC could play a crucial role.

The APSRTC and Metro Rail should work in association than competing with each other. Our services need to be reoriented. APSRTC and Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) officials are holding discussions on setting up bus stops near the 65 proposed Metro Rail stations in the city. The purpose is to make both the services complement each other.

Today 40 per cent of the public use public transport. Once Metro starts functioning, we will have 70 per cent public willing to use this service. Then we will have to add more buses to connect these commuters to their nearest destination. Any growth or change is connected to social, financial and environmental issues. There is a scope for horizontal growth in our city.

APSRTC has inaugurated a solar plant at HCU bus depot. How does this help? In an effort to use alternative forms of energy for its daily operations, the APSRTC has decided to tap solar power. The corporation has proposed to install solar power plants at 105 bus stations, garages and bus depots across the state. It is being undertaken in collaboration with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). The Rs 85.11-crore project is taken up on RESCO (Renewable Energy Service Company) model wherein the investments are being made by MNRE and APSRTC will pay for the solar power generated in the project.

You started Pushpak buses in association with GMR, how successful are these buses? APSRTC will operate 40 low-floor air-conditioned 'Pushpak' buses to Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) from various destinations in the city from December 15. Already, a few air-conditioned buses are being operated and these 40 buses would be in addition to the existing fleet to Rajiv Gandhi International Airport. It is still under losses but by year-end we will be able to break even.

APSRTC was in huge losses when you took over. What's the present status? Well, last year the losses amounted to Rs 585 crore and this they have reduced to Rs 330 crore approximately. We have a long way to go. Expenditure has also gone up by 20 per cent.

You came up with a novel idea of having a family photo on the left side near the driver's seat. What was the idea behind this and did you succeed? We want to reduce accidents with this idea and it worked well. When a person sees his family, he starts behaving well. Every driver leaves home promising his family that he will return home safe. A soft reminder of his family motivates him to be alert. So he avoids drunken driving and takes all precautions. We have come down heavily on drunken driving and have been using about 300 breath analyzers. Last July, 25 drivers were dismissed after they were found drunk. Over 1.47 lakh state transport undertaking buses carry about seven crore passengers across the country. We need to ensure high levels of passenger safety.

There was a time when you were showing withdrawal symptoms to police department as the "kotwal". Was there political pressure or was it personal? I worked for two-and-a-half years as City Police Commissioner. It was a job of great stress with issues including Telangana agitation, bandhs, daily demonstrations etc. There was no political pressure.

Bus drivers are generally rash in driving and very rough in behavior. Unions are equally demanding. How do you manage and do justice to commuters? I don't agree that all bus drivers are rash. We got to respect the circumstances they work under - heat, pollution, unruly traffic and others. We did remove several drivers and conducted training too. Unions have a major role for proper functioning of any organization. They make discussions between managers and the trade unions much more productive, and enable them to identify mutually beneficial ways of moving forward.

Any hike in bus fares and bus passes? There has been no hike in fares since 1994.The ratios of expenditure are 2:1.We have borne two-thirds of expenditure and expect the commuters to spend one-third. In this process, we have been bearing losses and with the hike in diesel prices we have another 20% increase in expenses. However, we don't see a hike at the moment.

You launched a 24 hour help line 1800 -200-4599 for customer queries. Does it function round-the-clock as advertised? Yes, it does. We monitor it time to time. Night accidents and women security problems reach us. There has been a very good response to this toll free number. In case of accidents or women's safety issue, we alert the local police. We receive 20 to 25 calls daily. Above all, there have been instances where people called up on my mobile and told their grievances.

The general feeling is that women commuters are not safe. What about separate buses for women? We have women conductors to give assurance of safety. 7,000-odd women conductors are trained in martial arts so that they can help prevent attacks on passengers. There were two training programmes "Mundadugu" and "Atmiyapilupu" designed for your one lakh odd staff. How did these help?
We provide a safe and sharing environment for each employee to discover and be in their true selves. Participants can explore ways to improve their effectiveness by developing an awareness of their individual styles and how to develop this style to maximize the potential from relationships with others. When an indivual is happy, his efficiency at work increases. About your family, and hobbies� I have two sons and one daughter. My elder son Mohsin Khan is working in the US and younger son and daughter are studying. My wife Samira Begum is a housewife. I like sports especially cricket and tennis. My favourite authors are RK Narayan and Einstein. I enjoy old Hindi songs of Lata and Rafi.
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