Local Niti Adda - Free Public Transport - Is it a public welfare or public mismanagement?

Summary :
The Niti Adda focused on discussing local policies in various cities, with an emphasis on public transportation. Participants shared their experiences and proposed solutions to address issues such as financial burden, societal pressures on women, mismanagement of public funds, and discrimination by bus drivers and conductors. The discussion concluded without a clear consensus on the matter, highlighting the complexity of the issue and the need for diverse perspectives.

Prachi discussed her campaign for for free bus travel for women in Odisha, inspired by their own experiences and those of their neighbour, Babli. They emphasized the financial burden of bus travel on families and the societal pressure and gender bias that often neglects women’s education. Prachi shared their personal experiences of having to use private buses for college due to lack of government-provided transportation. They also highlighted the societal pressures on women, particularly those from lower-income households, to justify their movements outside the home. Prachi emphasized the importance of women’s financial independence and the need to challenge societal preconceptions about women’s capabilities. They noted that while the government of Odisha has schemes to support women’s education and healthcare, the lack of access to mobility remains a significant barrier. Prachi concluded that it would take concerted efforts from the government to create a level playing field for women and that this support should continue until equality is achieved.

Ashwin and Ritika emphsized the importance of considering both public welfare and mismanagement aspects of a topic, and discussed the efficiency and effectiveness of the government’s actions. Shivan shared their personal experience and proposed making public transport free, suggesting alternative revenue streams such as advertisements on buses or sponsorship from local businesses. They argued that this move would be cost-effective for both the government and the citizens, and would bring environmental benefits and potentially optimize healthcare.

Ashwin defined public mismanagement as misuse of public money by the Government, using the example of grand promises without sufficient funds and the absence of promised services. shivan agreed to consider different revenue streams to address this issue. Ashwin and Babli also pointed out potential problems with public transportation systems, with Ashwin suggesting that incentives for drivers and conductors might lead to revenue-focused decisions rather than beneficial ones for commuters. Towards the end of the adda, Priyanka shared a story adding to the previous point.

The discussion revolved around the implementation of public transport policies, with a particular focus on the welfare of bus drivers and conductors. Priyanka raised concerns about the discrimination and misbehavior faced by these individuals and questioned the provision of free public transport in other cities. Praghya noted that in Chennai, free public transport was provided to vendors and women, emphasizing its importance for the smooth functioning of the market. Ashwin raised a query about the selective nature of government support, leading to a discussion about the criteria for government assistance. Janhavi contributed by sharing their experience in Amritsar, where free public transport in the form of buses is provided.

Bus Rapid Transit System Debate

Janhavi expressed their concerns about Bus Rapid Transit system in Amritsar, which they believes has become a public burden due to its dependence on government subsidies. They suggested that the system could be improved by allowing businesses to transport their goods without restriction and by converting the transport system into an organized sector. Samiksha, on the other hand, disagreed with the idea of free public transport, citing potential mismanagement and the current debt of the government. They proposed a solution of banning cars from crowded areas to encourage people to use public transport. The discussion concluded without a clear consensus on the matter.

Free Public Transport Pros and Cons Discussed

Yogesh highlighted the benefits such as increased accessibility reduced traffic congestion, and environmental benefits. However, they also voiced concerns about the potential negative impacts, including job losses for private transporters, increased tax burdens for taxpayers, overcrowding, and potential misuse. They suggested that alternative solutions, like discounts, could be more effective. Later, Prachi shared their perspective, emphasizing the importance of women’s safety and the need for equal access to public spaces.

Subsidies, Bus Tickets, and Public Decision Making

Prachi raised concerns about subsidies given to MNCs. Praghya suggested giving the government time to establish new schemes such as free bus tickets for women. Ashwin emphasized the need to understand the scale of the problem, noting the disparity between the need for 14,000 buses and the current availability of around 5,000. They also raised a question about the rights of those who pay versus those who don’t in the context of free services. Ashwin expressed their appreciation for the diverse perspectives brought up during the discussion, highlighting the importance of financial resources in public decision making and the potential limitations of relying solely on the market.

Public Transportation and Language Barriers in Bengaluru

Ashwin stressed the importance of problem solving skills in addressing complex public issues and enouraged participants to be confident in their presentations and solutions. Riya, a newcomer to Bengaluru, expressed concerns about the lack of clear language on public transportation signage and suggested that the government could improve the experience for newcomers. Ritika proposed reaching out to Janhavi for a solution and agreed to share a platform for Riya to express their concerns.
Ashwin added that simplifying the bus numbering system could also improve navigation for commuters.

Ritika reflected on the discussion, acknowledging the topic’s complexity and expressing gratitude for the feedback. They proposed a quick poll for further feedback and emphasized the importance of comfortably sharing opinions.