In Andhra Pradesh, another silly drama is playing out. The state government has banned online bus ticketing to prevent accidents. Revenues of online ticketing sites like redBus & others are likely to be affected. What?? Yes, that’s what came first to my mind too.
In the last few weeks, after two terrible accidents which killed nearly 60 people, private bus operators have been put under strict operating conditions. According to one estimate in the Times of India, nearly 90% of private buses in Andhra Pradesh, or a fifth of private buses that make up a Rs 15,000 cr market, are off the road.
On one hand, I’m relieved that many of these coffins on wheels have been taken off the road. But on the other, I am positively bewildered about the ban on selling individual tickets– online or offline. According to the transport department there, private buses are only given permission to run group tours and aren’t allowed to sell individual tickets (source).
If you want to enforce some archaic rule that’s fine, the question is: can you run enough state owned buses to meet the demand? Can we also build safer roads?
If you have suddenly woken up to the fact that private operators run some of the most unsafe buses on the planet and want to bat for better safety standards, that’s great. But why ban online ticketing? How is selling individual tickets online going to have any impact on the number of accidents? Forget online, how is selling individual tickets offline going to affect the number of accidents at all? Oh, I get it: no buses on the road and hence no accidents!
This is unpleasantly reminiscent of the recent ATM fiasco in Bangalore. For those who haven’t heard: more than a thousand ATMs in Bangalore were ordered shut by the state police because banks couldn’t appoint security guards to stand watch after a woman was attacked in an ATM kiosk last month. Clearly, another case of digging a well when you are thirsty.
Calling the people who run our country witless would be an understatement. You sirs, as Mark Twain would have surmised, are the scions of an “ancestral procession of idiots stretching back to the Missing Link.”
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