The Punjab government led by Captain Amarinder Singh is planning to announce within two weeks a new draft transport policy that aims to “unshackle” the public transport system from the “current monopolistic control”.
Chief minister Amarinder on Wednesday chaired a review meeting of the transport department where he suggested a slew of measures to overhaul the “ailing” transport system in the state, an official spokesperson said.
It is expected that a new transport policy will be announced within two weeks, the official said.
“The policy will have several measures to unshackle the public transport system from its current monopolistic control,” an official spokesman said in Chandigarh.
In Punjab, private players have a significant presence in the transport sector. The Badal family, which ruled Punjab before Congress came to power, are learnt to be among the top private players in the transport sector.
In the meeting, Amarinder suggested several measures including the restructuring of the 22 district transport offices (DTOs) and ushering in a transparent system of permit allotment.
The four regional transport authority (RTA) offices at Patiala, Jalandhar, Ferozepur and Bathinda will also be restructured to make functioning hassle-free, the spokesperson said.
The new transport policy will be drafted through consultations among stakeholders and will seek to create a level playing field for private players while facilitating unemployed youth, the official spokesman said.
The new policy has to be framed by May 15 as directed by the high court and will affect 750 private bus route permits, 1,840 extensions beyond 24km of original routes and 6,700 mini bus permits.
Amarinder directed the department officials to professionalise the registration as well as license issuance and renewal services, apart from making the motor vehicle authorities more accountable by bringing them under the ambit of the sub-divisional magistrates (SDMs).
To streamline the licensing system, Amarinder asked the department to expedite the process of digitisation of licences and to examine the prospects of outsourcing driving tests.
Tariff and route rationalisation will also be undertaken on priority basis. The department was also directed to upgrade the buses to provide a comfortable travel option to the commuters.
Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal suggested the introduction of a fleet of integrated coaches of elite buses to be operated on premier inter-city roads “to end the monopoly of private operators” on these routes.
He suggested CCTV cameras in buses for travel safety.
Manpreet expressed concern at the disparity in registration fee between Punjab and neighbouring states, causing private vehicle owners to opt for registration of their vehicles in other states.
Officials informed him that the disparity will be reduced once GST comes into force.
In line with the Congress manifesto, it was decided that the transport department will provide one lakh taxis, light commercial vehicles, etc, every year to the unemployed youth at subsidised rates.