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Jaipur City Bus Service: Cost-Effective, Efficient, Attractive

 

Jaipur's new bus service is a model for other Indian cities. Photo by Umang Jain.

Umang Jain, a transport specialist with EMBARQ India, reflects on the creation of a public-private partnership for Jaipur City Bus Service.

The Ministry of Urban Development in India sanctioned 400 buses for Jaipur at a cost of Rs 142 crore (US$29 million) under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM) program.

A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), in the name of Jaipur City Bus Services Ltd. (JCTSL), was constituted for planning, managing and supervising the operations of city bus services. JCTSL engaged Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation (RSRTC) for the operations of buses under a gross cost contract. The bus service runs under the name of “Jaipur Bus.”

THE STATE OF THE SYSTEM

Currently, JCTSL is operating about 221 buses on 10 routes. Each of these routes is designated by a different color. Out of the 10 routes, 7 routes are radial, while 3 are circular. The routing plan was devised by JCTSL in a manner so that the majority of the people complete their journey with only one transfer.

There are about 1,400 mini-buses that are directly competing with the JCTSL buses for ridership and revenue.

The operations commenced in July 2010 with a flat fare of Rs 7 per trip per passenger and an average daily ridership of 60,000 passengers. Consequently, JCTSL could not cater to short distance travelers (traveling up to four kilometers), which constituted only 7 percent of the total JCTSL bus riders and 60 percent of minibus riders.

ALWAYS IMPROVING

Based on the above analysis, EMBARQ (the producer of this blog) recommended a stage-based fare structure, which was adopted in April 2011, resulting in a three-fold increase in the number of short distance travelers, and average daily ridership increased to 160,000 passengers. The system was able to garner 19 percent modal shift and, more importantly, a 5 percent modal shift from private modes of transport, which implies that the system has been very well-received by the people of Jaipur.

In parallel, EMBARQ helped JCTSL to reduce its cost of bus operations by adopting cost-effective measures and doing away with certain elements like terminating the annual maintenance contract with the manufacturer of buses and doing in-house maintenance (thereby reducing overhead) by renegotiating the operating contract with the bus operator. This resulted in a reduction of approximately 15 percent in bus operating costs. All these measures resulted in making the operations much more viable, with the deficit reducing from Rs 21 per kilometer to Rs 11 per kilometer.

IMPLICATIONS FOR INDIAN CITIES

This example indicates that a flat-fare system is not suited to Indian bus operations. At the same time, this is a unique example of a public-public partnership wherein two public agencies have joined hands and delivered an efficient bus service. This can serve as a model that can be replicated in many Indian cities with little or no public transport and also in rapidly urbanizing Tier 2 cities similar to Jaipur.

But there is still a long way to go, as the share of public transport is very low. The system needs to run in a sustainable manner for the share of buses to increase.

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