Surat: Transport sector
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How Surat switched from auto-rickshaws to buses
See graphic:: Why Surat Sitilink bus service succeeded, some achievements, as in November 2017
Surat’s stellar show comes at a time when most city bus entities including the DTC are facing huge challenge to increase bus ridership
While in November 2016 the Surat Sitilink got only 3,000 riders per day by August 2017 it increased to 65,000
Surat municipal corporation has set an example in achieving the tough task of getting more and more users of autos and two-wheelers to opt for city buses.
A combination of savvy pricing and smart technology has meant that the service, Surat Sitilink Ltd, launched less than a year back by the municipal body has succeeded in attracting 93% passengers, many of whom were earlier using auto-rickshaws and two-wheelers.
Surat's stellar show comes at a time when most city bus entities including Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) are facing huge challenge to increase bus ridership. While in November 2016 the Surat Sitilink got only 3,000 riders per day by August this year it increased to 65,000, an over 20-fold increase in ridership. Average daily revenue also increased from Rs 46,000 to Rs 6 lakh during this period.
In November 2017, Surat Municipal Corporation was chosen for the 'Best City Bus Services Award' by the Centre at urban mobility conference in Hyderabad. The textile city of Gujarat has also started work to introduce a fleet of 25 electric buses, which will ply only in the core city area covering 29 km. This is being done to check vehicular pollution in crowded areas.
Besides keeping the fare low at Rs 4 as the minimum ticket amount to compete with polluting shared auto-rickshaws, the city administration has also introduced intelligent transit management system for real time monitoring of buses, emergency and other department vehicles. A robust live IT system has been put in place for automatic vehicle location, incident management and for monitoring of all equipment from the control centre.
The Surat Sitilink has also deployed system for IT-based monitoring of transit violations such as speed, missed stop and route violation. It also has a central message publication system for all transit vehicles in case of any event or emergency.
"It's very tough to shift people from four-wheelers to bus system. Only 5% of the people using our BRTS system have shifted from cars. While all our Sitilink buses are normal ones, the BRTS buses are air-conditioned. As both these services are under the municipal body there is sync in their operation and routes," Surat municipal commissioner Thennarasan told
He added prior to the launch of Sitilink service private operators used to run buses on 30-40 routes. "Surat is growing at 7%-8% annually and the municipal body needed to take up the task of putting a good public transport system in place, which is affordable and efficient," the municipal commissioner said.
While Surat Sitilink is also incurring losses of Rs 7-8 crore annually, which is expected to increase as the number of buses increase and cover more routes, the municipal corporation has a solution. "We collect one-time 'vehicle tax' from each new vehicle, which is 2% of the cost of the vehicle. We get roughly Rs 60-70 crore and this amount is meant for improving transport system. We are going to keep a share of the revenue generated from the sale of additional floor space index (FSI) on properties along the transit corridors for transport development. We are also looking at additional revenue from advertisements," Thennarasan said.