Wednesday, February 1

Two deadlines missed, freedom from bus commission on August 15

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After missing two deadlines, the bus commission system is finally likely to be replaced by a salary scheme on August 15. The transport department is fine0tuning the timetable that has not been revised in the past 20 years.

“Following instructions from transport minister Suvendu Adhikari, we have started revising the timetable for rationalization of buses on different routs, belonging to both private owners and state transport undertakings (STUs), with even time gap between two services,” a transport official said. “The new system, which will not decide a driver and conductor’s salaries based on the bus’s earnings and the even time gap between two services would hopefully rule out racing and unnecessary overtaking, which make roads terribly unsafe.”

Under the current commission system, the driver gets 12-14% of a bus’s daily sales and conductor 6-9%. Around 4,500 private buses run in and around Kolkata and each makes around three-four trips a day, spanning 20km a side. This fetches drivers Rs 12,000-Rs 14,000 a month if they work 11to 12 hours a day. Once, the salary system starts, drivers will be paid Rs 450-600 a day and conductors Rs 250-300 a day, whatever be the bus’s earnings.

But, according to an official, the overhaul was easier said than done. “Multiple buses ply a route and often, the routes overlap with one another. Unlike the state transport undertaking routes, private bus routes have not been rationalized in the past half-a-century. Bus routes have been created at the whim of politicians and operators, making the trade unviable,” another official said.

Bus owners, however, told TOI that unlike union leaders, they were not averse to the change, provided the state transport department ensured the creation of a commission that would look into route alignment and another panel that would explain how salaries would be disbursed, based on varying profitability of a route. “Shyambazar has 70% routes feeding Esplanade and Babughat along with Howrah. This, profit takes a hit there,” said Samar Roy, a private bus operator at Behala.

Bus workers, like the operators, fear the new system would not get them as much money as they used to under the commission system. Sailesh Manna, a worker on Route 18, said, “Why will we work on a route that will pay us less? The pay must be uniform.”

Source: Times of India

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