so we are going to have ctb again. and it will fail again too. until we recognize the real problem with our public transport service and address that we will be stuck with the service we deserve.
economic theory says that if a price of a good or a service is kept artificially low a shortage and/or deterioration of quality will result. our public transport service is a perfect example of the validity of that theory.
one has to compare the price of a bus ticket, with the cost of the same journey by any other method of transport, adjusted for number of passengers per vehicle, to see how absurdly low the fares are. this means any reputable business playing by the rules will not make money operating a bus service. only unregulated individuals willing to cut corners (by hiring unqualified drivers and conductors cheaply , by breaking the road rules for a few extra passengers etc.) can make any living from it. that also explains the non emergence of larger private bus companies in spite of government encouragement.
nor will a reestablished ctb make any money any more than the current cluster bus companies, it will be just a larger mouth gobbling up ever more subsidies. i am not saying that there will not be any advantages from establishing a centralized entity, in place of, for the most part hopelessly managed cluster bus cos. if the management is good and some voluntary retirement scheme is introduced loses may be cut marginally, but i am not hopeful given the track record.
some people argue that ctb will be a good counterweight for the private bus 'mafia'. while it may help to break another bus strike or two, it will not work in the long term because interests of the private bus operators and the ctb will coincide eventually and the government will end up giving more subsides to both parties to prevent a complete breakdown. and given that ctb will cost higher subsidy wise, government will prefer private operators to continue in spite of all appearances to the contrary.
in addition ctb will have the inevitable trade union troubles.
while the ctb service may be a little better, so will subsides and thus the strain on the budget will be higher too.
only way out of this mess is,
to give freedom to the bus operators to set the fares (giving them a option to chose freely without any restricting criteria between several fare bands say (instead of present three - normal, semi luxury , luxury with restricted quality criteria for each band), with the band indicated outside the bus, so passengers can recognize the fares before getting in)
to let anybody enter the market as long as the vehicle is roadworthy (doing away with route permits etc.).
of course the AVERAGE cost to customer will go up initially but eventually we will have various quality bus services with corresponding fares.
you will get what you pay for.
some will say this is unfair to the poor. but if anybody wants the government to help the poor (a debatable point) its better to help them directly, as in direct cash payments to them instead of through indirect subsides that helps the rich too.
as if we don't have enough subsidy problems the finance minister suddenly starts to give a 300 rupee subsidy to the three wheelers each month (it's rather unclear whether there is a requirement to have a new meter installed). WTF!
if the general bureaucratic incompetence doesn't kill this in infancy, we will soon have a new class of dependent beggars clamoring for more subsidies instead of rather independent entrepreneurs we had so far. soon we will be treated to the sight of politicians promising higher and higher monthly payments in order to get votes. we will have low fares, less vehicles and poor service with passengers instead of three wheelers lined up, as the consequences become apparent.
some people never learn.