Tuesday, May 07, 2002
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This is the situation one year after the Regional Transport Authority, under the chairmanship of the former Deputy Commissioner, Kapil Mohan, issued a charter of traffic regulations. The charter would have served the City well had it been implemented strictly.
Although the road sense among the people appears to be at a healthy level, buses have become a menace, posing a threat to other road users. Rash driving with scant respect for the rights of other road users and haughtiness of the public transport personnel are the "hall marks" of the traffic in the city. This is attributed to indiscriminate issuance of permits to transport operators inside the city as well as the moffussil areas, thanks to the amended Public Transport Act, under which the RTO has to issue permits to every applicant.
At the recent public meeting of the Regional Transport Authority, it was revealed that none of the permits were issued in Mangalore and that all permits were cleared from Bangalore along with the timings between the schedules. In fact, the RTA in Mangalore has been left high and dry and appears to be having only a superficial existence.
This has resulted in an uncontrolled growth of the city and moffussil transport system. There has been sharp increase in the number of private buses, which has resulted in cut-throat competition among transport operators.
The result of this: road rage unleashed by drivers of private buses. The situation has become so dangerous that nobody is safe on the road.
Rajavarma Ballal, President of the Karnataka Federation for Private Bus Operators, told The Hindu that the situation was grave in Dakshina Kannada as there has been phenomenal growth in the transport sector. He said the private bus operators were ignorant of the public transport permit law, which was amended by the Centre in 1994. As per this law, the Transport Department is supposed to formulate new routes before issuing permits.
Thanks to the initiative taken by Mr. Mohan and the Superintendent of Police, Seemanth Kumar Singh, the RTA has issued an order directing the public transport operators to follow regulations scrupulously accompanied with a word of caution for default. People of Mangalore will cherish this order for a long time to come as it curbs the speed of the city buses through a permanent speed governor or the diesel-derating device fitted to fuel injection system in the vehicle. This has been made mandatory. The speed limit has been fixed at 50 kmph. within the city and 70 kmph. on express and moffussil routes. The order has stipulated time limit to make changes in engines.
This is the first time that the RTA has shown courage to ask the bus operators to fall in line. But critics point out that there is little to cheer about this. Irrational route allocation and licensing pattern, the unruly behaviour of the bus personnel with commuters, playing cassettes inside the buses, use of shrill horns inside the City limits and also parity in fares have not been given a thought by the RTA. But with the recent revelations of the power centre moving over to Bangalore, the RTA here can only be expected to toe the line of its bosses in Bangalore.
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