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Smooth ride planned in million-plus cities

Traffic and transportation facilities in cities with a population of over a million are in for an overhaul with the state government proposing major initiatives to ensure a smooth ride for commuters.

lucknow Updated: Sep 02, 2012 11:35 IST

Traffic and transportation facilities in cities with a population of over a million are in for an overhaul with the state government proposing major initiatives to ensure a smooth ride for commuters.

The selected cities are Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Agra, Meerut and Mathura.

Chief secretary Jawed Usmani, who heads the recently constituted Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTC), is expected to announce these measures on September 3 to enable the local transport and urban development bodies of mission cities to strengthen and have better access to mass transport services.

Besides streamlining the operation and management of the city bus service, the steps could include levying of additional taxes on both the state and city level for setting up a Dedicated Urban Transport Fund (DUTF).

Some of these measures suggested at the state level included increasing the renewal fee for driving licences, registration of both two and four- heelers, congestion fee and a green tax.

At the city level, funds for the DUTF were to be raised from parking fee, property development tax and employment tax.

"A proposal to levy surcharge and cess on petrol and diesel in cities was turned down in the last meeting," said an official of the urban development department.

"The union ministry of urban development has suggested formation of a coordinated mechanism for improving the transport infrastructure in cities that have a population over 10 lakh. They are also willing to sanction funds for such projects under the Urban Infrastructure and Governance (UIG) head of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) plan," said another senior official.

The formation of UMTC under the chief secretary, he said, was the first step towards this, as urban transport has now become a crucial component of urban planning.

"The city bus service needs to be spruced up. This requires both money and proper management to run the fleet. To achieve this, a dedicated urban transport fund under the divisional commissioner would be set up," said the official. At present, Uttar Pradesh State Roadways Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) was operating the city bus service in mission cities at a huge loss to its coffers.

"A special purpose vehicle (SPV) was formed in these cities to oversee the operation of the city bus service. And as part of viability gap funding a decision was taken under which development authorities and municipal corporations were asked to provide money to the SPV from their respective infrastructure development fund," said the official. Since operation of a bus service is also part of improving the infrastructure, the Uttar Pradesh Housing and Development Board has also been asked to pitch in with funds.

"We are planning to empower the SPV to increase its sources of income by building bus stops on PPP model and generate revenue from advertisement like the Delhi City Transport Service," the official added.

While some of the buses required replacement, there was a need for another 170 to strengthen the fleet and improve the bus service in these cities.

"The UPSRTC, which is supposed to provide 30% money for the purchase, is facing a resource crunch and as such funds would have to come from the centre," he said.