What's wrong with this transport?
14/06/2004, Daniel Shemratov
The number of road accidents involving public transport in Shymkent is growing.
All sorts of complaints about the public transport are one of the favourite subjects for both the authorities and the road police, and often for passengers themselves.
The biggest number of complaints is caused by real "races" for a client, that microbus taxis start whenever they see one. And what if we talk about the abolition of benefits for veterans and pensioners, the limited number of monthly tickets, and their expensiveness?
Moreover, not only common monthly tickets are getting more expensive, but also those for pupils and students. The latter were until lately a benefit for the growing and young generations.
But no matter how just and relevant complaints about the public transport are, it is not only transport companies that are to blame for this, but also several objective and subjective factors of the current situation.
The association of Shymkent passenger transport companies noted a number of factors that influenced the transport activities negatively and that cannot be changed by the companies themselves.
Firstly it is the condition of roads. Big transport taxes, regularly paid by drivers, according to the association end up nowhere. In any case in Shymkent, where the road repair lasts not more than one or two months in one year (from May to mid-summer), only central streets and avenues undergo a cosmetic repair. Meanwhile even the streets of 2-3 categories were not repaired for decades. And it is exactly these streets that receive the main load of passenger transportations. At least because the width of the roadway is much narrower here, than on central avenues and large vehicles virtually has to stick to one and the same track. And, consequently, any holes on such roads momentarily grow and become big depressions. Therefore the majority of drivers see the main reason of accidents exactly in the poor condition of roads.
Another problem is an excessive quantity of car parks on the sides of the roads. The mechanism of appearance of such parks is unclear - their territory belongs to the traffic area, that is as a minimum of municipal property. However virtually none of the car parks has any agreements on the rent of territories with municipal authorities. Nevertheless, there are certain "workers", who exempt "payment for parking" from the cars. By this, they virtually legalise the car parking in an inappropriate place. A car owner, if he pays for parking, can even park his car literally blocking the road for the rest of transport. And neither the parking owners, nor the driver, nor the road police care about such violations of the rules of the road. As a result, in the best case, there is a jam on the road that interrupts its schedule, in the worst case - there is a road accident.
Another factor is the technical condition of the vehicles themselves - the passenger buses. Currently around the technical operation terms of a half of public transport vehicles in Shymkent have expired. However, for private companies, dealing with passenger transportation, objectively it is not profitable to spend money for a purchase of new, comfortable buses. Eventually, for any passenger vehicle an approximate term of payback in the proposed conditions of maintenance should be defined. In the conditions of Shymkent, for a big bus this term should be five to seven years (depending on the traffic on its route). However, presently the distribution of town routes between the public transport companies occurs once every three years. During this term new buses will pay back but a half of their cost. And there a re no guarantees that the company will not be pushed away for some reason at the next bid. Of course, many firms would go even for such risk, hoping that bid commission members in the next bid would prefer companies with new transport.
But the point is that it is impossible to establish how much objective and independent the commission members were. According to the conditions of the bid - all applications from the parties are received in a secret order in closed envelopes that are not subject to public disclosure. It is done to prevent unfair competition, so that companies don't steal organisational know how from each other. Only the commission can get acquainted with the bid propositions, which afterwards makes its final solution that is not to be appealed against. The propositions from candidates themselves are destroyed right away. But such secrecy also brings about the fact that it is impossible to establish whether really best propositions win. Sometimes a company with new buses aspiring for some route loses to its competitors with old buses that even in the future don't make any improvements in the passenger transport activities on the routes that have been won. And then the side that loses can only guess what were the know how for which the bid commission gave its preference to it.
It is only a part of problems, raised by the transport association. Virtually all of them in one way or another find themselves within the competence of municipal authorities. And, probably, resolving them the authorities can get rid of the most part of the problems, for which the authority blames the public transport.