Thursday, August 13, 2009

Public property, Private use

I depend on Company provided transport for reaching office and back home. I must say the service is excellent in terms of its operations and I believe is quite profitable at the same time.

The company transport service sometimes uses the public MTC buses (for public use) for streamlining pick and drop at different timings. Well its nothing off the shelf. I have seen Infosys leasing the BTC buses for transport of their employees in Bangalore.

What is irking me is that the public buses are meant for public use and should not be leased for private use. In strict economic terms if we consider MTC as a money making entity there is nothing wrong with this. I suppose it is much easier and profitable for them to lease the bus to private people who need it, but sitting in the same bus when you look out and see so many people stranded on roads trying desperately to somehow get hold of any component of the bus of the passengers loaded mercilessly into it, it does not seem RIGHT. I know many free market experts must be already flinching about where this post is going. But my point is simple - The tax payers gave this money to the government so that an asset can be created and utilized by the public. The MTC is not a profit making organization.

I cannot comprehend that in peak hours a bus which is meant for public use is not deployed on public service. The purpose of MTC is not to make money but to provide a reasonable mode of transport to millions of people who figuratively have paid for the asset. And even if its making money by all means you charge a reasonable extra amount for the service during peak times but don't deprive general public of an asset which was meant to be used for them and not for a selected few.

Ya I know this will mean that the price of using the bus service for me will go up but I am willing to pay it if helps in providing a seat for elderly and transport for many in need.


Ankush Singla said...

Completely understand your feelings... however don't agree with the thoughts completely...
The thought that "The MTC is not a profit making organization." is not what i agree with...
We are the ones who say that these organizations should be responsible, answerable & self dependent... I guess profit making is a part of this process.

wamcee said...

I agree that MTC is not a profit making organization. But the objective on a larger scale is to serve the society.

Here in this case, The transportation provided to the affluent crowd working in MNC's is to ease the traffic problems. Give a poor man a comfortable bus, and you will take one cycle or scooter off the road. Give the rich man a seat in a comfortable bus, and you will take a car off the road.

And taking cars off the road means that everyone now gets to travel faster - both the remaining cars as well as the buses - carrying both the rich and poor. Thus it is probably more pareto-optimal to put an extra high-end bus on the road rather than an ordinary bus (though of course we need enough of the latter).

One major bane of public transport planning in India (and abroad) has been the assumption that public transport is for the poor, and excluding the rich out of the equation. Not finding decent public transport option, the rich has thus gravitated to using one-passenger cars which have had a disastrous effect on traffic in general.