In a move that may provide a major stimulus to the rural connectivity, the UP State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC), a government-run body, has reversed its decades old bus operation policy with focus on short-distance operations and heavy curtailment in long-distance services.
The new bus operation policy being seen as a paradigm shift envisages to connect state's all one lakh plus villages with a bus service directly or indirectly depending on availability of a motorable rural road with the provision that buses will necessarily make night halts at village terminals only.
The new policy also seeks to adopt parameters like rural connectivity and bus occupancy etc. to judge a depot's actual performance and not to continue with 'artificial' performance indicator such as optimum fuel utilization and income per bus.
Under the reverse policy, the corporation will ply 90 per cent per cent of its total buses for short distances with 60 per cent of them to connect villages to district headquarters and bordering towns whereas only 10 per cent of the total buses with good load factor will be kept for long-distance operations like between Goralkpur and Delhi.
A circular already shot off to regional managers says that 35 per cent of the total bus fleet will operate within the districts falling under a region ands will do multiple trips with each bus covering 245 km everyday. And 25 per cent of buses will ply between two neighbouring regions like between Lucknow and Kanpur connecting villages as under districts in those regions.
This much is expected to take care of 100 per villages in the state. Another 25 per cent buses will make inter-regional operations (between two regions) but not very far off like Lucknow and Bareilly.
Significantly, the new policy seeks to make heavy curtailment in long-distance services which may be less than halved from 1700 to just 700 buses.
Principal Secretary (Transport) and Chairman and Managing Director, UPSRTC, Pankaj Agrawal said, "We cannot ignore villages which are poorly connected to the motorable transport at present and the new policy basically aims at meeting transport needs of villagers."
He claimed curtailment of long distance services would not cause any inconvenience to passengers because most such buses were seen going empty on the same root.
"Moreover, the field officials were so far encouraging long-distance operations to cover to show artificial income. Agrawal said he had asked for a status report on arrangements as per the new policy, from RMs by February 15.