Friday, February 6, 2015

Special Purpose Vehicles

Brought up in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam , I have had the luxury of hopping on and off buses to travel anywhere in the city . As a kid I always was in an impression that all of the cities had buses or to make it professional "formal public transport" . After seeing the first strike of buses in Hyderabad , I was exposed to the truth that how a city is crippled with out public transport. Then after a long time when I started looking for services in small towns and tier 3 cities, I could never find them. Then I realized even how after the corporation in then undivided andhrapradesh being so huge, could not manage urban operations.

Fast forward 2009, we were all excited about the first sanctions of JnNURM. The corporation was excited about finally getting financial assistance to upgrade the fleet in at least the mission cities. As the sanctions trickled down to every one, GoI realized how JnNURM has transformed bus transport at least in few cities. I agree there are teething problems in many of the places where public transport was initiated for the first time. This might be because of the one size fits all concept * of the scheme may be.

After the first set of sanctions, MoUD had decided to give an "additional central assistance (ACA)"  to procure 10,000 buses, depots and ancillary facilities as promised in the Union Budget 2013-2014, following which a new set of revised guidelines and check lists to qualify for the "assistance" were released as a document. Unlike the last time, this installment the allocations were done on first come-first serve basis . Additional to the guidelines, there were five conditions put up , which were to be met within two months of  first sanctions.

Of the five conditions, two point towards setting up of city specific special purpose vehicles (spv s) . Following the issuance of guidelines in mid 2013, APSRTC of then undivided andhrapradesh initiated setting up of city specific SPV s in early 2014 .

Coming to the most intersting part and the thing i would love to debate, APSRTC decided to form four SPV s two each for telangana and the residual state of andhrapradesh .

"If a city is small and isfed from adjoining area/cities, the State Government can notify all such cities and adjoining areas as “Local Planning Area” and constitute an Special Purpose Vehicles for such area. Such “Special Purpose Vehicles” can operate city buses under stage carriage permit in the local “Planning Area” in a manner that the maximum headway in peak time and non-peak time in similar to city bus operation."

Quoting the point 3.5 of JnNURM guidelines, APSRTC had decided to form SPV s as different zones ,Karimnagar,Hyderabad,Vijayawada&Vizianagaram,Kadapa&Nellore each serving a particular number of districts under them. The whole process of forming SPV s was initiated in early 2014 and there was confitmation from GoI in mid 2014. After the state split as Telangana and Andhrapradesh, Andhrapradesh notified the formation of SPVs on 5th January 2015 where as Telangana state did it on 20th January.

Over the years, APSRTC as a corporation has evolved looking at the counterparts in other states being changed structurally, for example the splitting of corporations in karnataka and forming strategic business units. often it has been suggested that having a separate corporation for hyderabad would at least solve the current problems at least partially. I have a conflicting point here, If only seperate corporations are the solution,then why is that BEST from Mumbai and MTC from chennai still questioned for efficiency. But, I have to agree with the point that urban operations are different from intercity and rural operations and they need a different mindset towards them . Hence the idea of having SPV s for urban operations is fine for now in the states of andhrapradesh and telangana considering they'll be 100% owned subsidiaries of their parent corporations. I see this as a new opportunity where funds are spent for urban operations and not complaining that we have other commitments.

Of the many ambitious institutional changes that JnNURM proposed , the formation of SPV s is just a start, if all of the proposals are implemented with their true spirit, then we will see a bright future where all of the cities and towns have the luxury of hopping buses to move around. We at love of Z cannot wait for city buses to start in Karimnagar,Warangal,Ongole,Kurnool,Srikakulam and many more cities. caution should be maintained and conclusions about the efficiency of the service should not be drawn in a small time considering they are just taking their baby steps.

Ending this post, one interesting observation, how could hyderabad,vijayawada and visakhapatnam which are considerably big cities be included in the SPV s while the guidelines state small cities can be clubbed as a planning area. I seriously hope this is not a desperate attempt to just get that funding from JnNURM.

thank you for the patience in reading the post. relevant graphics supporting the post will be put up in a month or so. please come back and do suggest on improving the post


SPV - Telangana , Government of Telangana
SPV- Andhrapradesh , Government of Andhrapradesh
Delusory Transformations, Gaurav Mittal

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