MTC charting out plan for improving bus services in Chennai

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on August 20, 2020

MTC is trying to revive the falling ‘ridership’ of city bus service   -  THE HINDU

The State entity issues ‘Request for Proposal’ to hire a consultant to prepare a business strategy

The Metropolitan Transport Corporation (Chennai) Ltd (MTC), the State Transport Undertaking providing city bus services in Chennai, is planning to formulate a business plan to transform its operations including improving the quality of its service and meeting its funding needs in a sustained manner.

It has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to select a consultant to prepare the business plan.

MTC is India’s second largest urban bus fleet operator carrying about 35 lakh passengers every day with a fleet strength of 3,679 buses. It has a vehicle utilisation of 287 km per bus per day and a ridership of about 966 passengers per bus per day in Chennai and adjoining areas in Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur districts.

Falling ‘ridership’

But MTC’s share of total trips in the Chennai Metropolitan Area has dropped to 22 per cent from 39 per cent over the past three decades. With people shifting to other modes of transport including private vehicles, this has resulted in increased road congestion, transport-related emissions and accidents in the city.

The Comprehensive Mobility Plan of Chennai seeks to reverse this trend and recommends achieving a mode share of 57 per cent for public transport trips by the year 2048, including city bus, metro rail and suburban rail services.

MTC’s fleet and service levels have not kept pace with the rapidly increasing travel needs of Chennai and its citizens’ aspirations. This is because of the lack of adequate funding and financing to meet its operational costs, which can be recovered only by the farebox revenues — which are deliberately kept low owing to affordability considerations.

The city bus performance is currently measured through internal efficiency related metrics such as fleet utilisation, vehicle utilisation, fuel efficiency, breakdown and accident rates that don’t capture the customers’ needs like accessibility, reliability and waiting time.

Further, MTC’s performance improvement plans have a one-year horizon in sync with the one-year State budgetary allocations’ timeline, the RFP document said

Tranforming MTC would require a longer-term vision to improve the quality of services along with sustained funding.

Mandate for consultant

The engagement of the consultant will be supported by the World Bank as part of the proposed Chennai City Partnership.

The consultant will have to outline the framework for development and approval of a five-year business plan for MTC; review international case studies on business plan development for public transport systems (like that of the UK) and identify relevant key performance indicators (KPI) from the case studies for proposed business plan.

The consultant should also prepare a plan for service delivery including the needs for total fleet, vehicle km of service, passenger-km of ridership, number of accidents along with the outlook for various KPIs.

The consultant should also develop a 10-year vision plan for MTC that incorporates application of Intelligent Transport Systems and data analytics for efficiency, operational sustainability, passenger information and governance improvements; transition to Bharat Stage VI, LNG and electric buses, the document said.

Published on August 20, 2020

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