The reported setting up of the transport regulatory authority for Chennai is indeed a positive measure, but it appears to fall short of recommendations made by the Planning Commission and also the objectives of the NUTP and JNNURM. (Report on the development in The Hindu is here.)
All the official documents are available in full on the Internet. (See links below)
The key questions to my mind are:
1. The Planning Commission in its approach to the 11th Plan suggests a legislative foundation for such a transport regulatory authority. What has been done in TN?
2. A major function of the new body as envisaged by the Commission, and also by international practice, is creation of a level playing field. Since there is only a monopoly operator, there is a conflict in expanding the system for commuter benefit.
3. The Commission, I think, expressly states that the existing operator cannot run the Regulator. Since the Transport Minister heads the existing operator, MTC, it goes against the grain of the policy.
4. We would have to look at what kind of civil society representation is found on the regulator to represent users, other than the official players, which is the bus operator, planning authority, police and so on.
5. What kind of remit does the regulator have to include allied activities like pedestrian movement, which are key to greater use of public transport? This requires policy synchronisation. On the contrary, the huge Chennai Corporation tenders published over the past two days in The Hindu indicate that it is business as usual – widening of roads (in other words, removing footpaths) and making investments for motorised road users at the cost of walkers.
The following documents are important to analyse the changes in transport policy.
Planning Commission approach paper to Eleventh Plan, on Transport including MRTS is here.
The UPA Government’s National Urban Transport Policy is here.
Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission website is here.
Rutgers University paper on urban transport crisis in India is here.