BUSWORLD ACADEMY 3th WEBINAR: HOW TO RESTART BUS OPERATIONS AFTER A LOCKDOWN? (2)
Five executive speakers shared their experiences and insights during the third Busworld Academy webinar, and tried to answer the burning “After Covid-19” questions. Part 2.
Prasana Patwardhan, President BOCI in India, addressed the attendees about the situation in India. Only 3% of the 1.7 million buses buses is running. Ticket rates are low and set by the government. On the other hand taxation is high on especially intercity routes and up to 79.5% of the revenues. In a normal situation operators are surviving because of “overloading”. “If a city bus has 32 seats and room for 18 people standing, we carry up to a hundred people. A problem is that because of the lock down many employees have gone back to their home villages were their families very often have a farm. In June the monsoon starts and then it will be a serious challenge to get al those people back to work again. The Indian government has not come up with any aid schemes yet. Also banks are not willing to lend money and they are very selective in choosing clients.” He says immediate funding from the central government with help from the Worldbank lasting for at least one to two years is the solution. For intercity services lowering taxation helps companies to survive. For transport of employees and schoolchildren the million dollar question is if they are willing to pay more because of a lower capacity while the costs are rising?”
His appeal was not a coincidence because Rakhi Basu from the Worldbank and Affiliate on the Smart Pandemic Management Team at UC Berkeley, joined the webinar to elaborate about these possibilities. According to Basu in order to fight Covid-19 the Worldbank group has approved funds of 14 billion US-dollar. “Bus operation is the primary mode of transport in our client-countries. We see a rapid move to contacless ticketing to prevent transmission of Covid-19. For us and policy makers we see a lot of costs coming post-covid and we need to think about how to maintain public transport profitable.” Basu says the Worldbank is extending its low costs financing loans to countries and available to any sector. The Worldbank is focussed on the public sector but there is the possibility for the private sector to acquire a loan through “The International Finance Corporation”. She advices to contact the national Ministry of Transport or Finance.