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Bus doctors meet the bosses
- Govt names consultants to study transport malaise

Calcutta, Jan. 20: The government has roped in a consortium of consultants to study the transport sector and suggest measures to revitalise it.

The exercise to be undertaken by Consultant Engineering Services (CES) and ICRA Management Services could translate into the merger of some of the state transport undertakings and early retirement schemes for excess staff.

Transport minister Subhas Chakraborty today met the heads of Calcutta State Transport Corporation, West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation, North Bengal State Transport Corporation, South Bengal State Transport Corporation and Calcutta Tramways Company and representatives of the consultants. He said the government is looking forward to curtailing the huge subsidy given to the undertakings and to ensure better services.

Representatives of UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and World Bank were present at the meeting in which the consultants spoke to the corporation bosses, transport secretary Sumantra Chowdhury and public enterprises and industrial reconstruction secretary Sunil Mitra. The British agency is funding the restructuring and the bank may be roped in later for its knowhow of the sector.

Chowdhury said: 'We want the consultants to show the means to rectify our problems to improve services in both private and public transport.' They will have 45 days to submit the report.

The government pays Rs 228 crore as subsidy to the five undertakings every year. It now wants optimal resource utilisation, commercial efficiency and better passenger comfort and amenities. The study will focus on:

n Merger of the units to create mass transport services separately for Calcutta and its neighbourhood and rural areas

n Recommending an optimal fleet and manpower strength after assessing number and quality of existing vehicles

n Suggesting a management structure for the new entities targeting optimum utilisation of resources, including a road map for use of modern office techniques, automation and refashioning navigation

n Creating franchises on a revenue-sharing model, whereby private players will run services on particular routes

n Inviting private investment in operational modernisation

The government also wants the consortium to study the growth trends in demand for mass transport operations, which includes services in the cities and between them.

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