State transport minister Madan Mitra is working on a plan to come up with an alternative to the present commission system for drivers and conductors of private buses.
Reckless driving by buses to overtake each other has been often blamed for fatal accidents and the move is aimed at stopping that.
“I feel it is beyond doubt that rash driving results in accidents and the commission system for drivers and conductors is the only reason. If I stop it, I would personally feel I have done the right thing for society,” said Mitra.
On Thursday the minister held meetings with transport officials to find out alternative ways. A high court verdict on Wednesday advised the state government to stop the commission system within three months.
“It was our demand when we were in the opposition. But we could not execute it even after forming the government because of pressure from bus operators. Now that we have a court verdict it would hardly take a couple of months to execute. Salary system seems to be the best option but we have to consult with owners to determine a suitable alternative,” said Mitra.
In the last five years several bus accidents have been reported in the city due to reckless driving. On April 4, 2008 20 people died when a bus plunged into the Bagjola canal from VIP Road. On July 4, 2009 12 people died when a minibus fell from the Bankim Setu in Howrah and plunged on to the railway tracks below. On January 30, 2013 a 40-year-old bus passenger’s hand was severed when the bus in which he was travelling in brushed past a tram near Sealdah station while overtaking a vehicle.
“We have found out that rash driving is responsible for more than 98% cases of accidents. Drivers and helpers said they are compelled to speed because they get a commission on ticket sales. This means, their income depends on the number of passengers they can muster. We have also have made several requests to stop commission system in the past,” a senior traffic officer said.
On the basis of the commission system, drivers get 12% and each conductors get 6% of the total sale of tickets. If there is a helper, then drivers make 10%, each of the conductor make 5% and the helper gets 4 % of the ticket sale. The owner gets 74% of the ticket sale.