To break the existing monopoly in the bus transport sector, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has mooted an open-door policy for bus permits, except on national highway routes.

An official spokesperson said taking forward his government’s agenda to reform the beleaguered transport system in the state, and free it from the monopolistic shackles created by the previous Parkash Singh Badal government, the CM suggested rationalisation of inter-state routes to make them more competitive.

Chairing a preliminary meeting of the Transport Department to draft the new transport policy, the CM directed the concerned officials to explore the modalities for interstate route rationalisation.

It was decided at the meeting to go for e-tendering on lucrative routes to make the business more viable and profitable, while providing a level-playing field to all players.

The draft policy, being prepared by the department, will be put before the state Cabinet for approval soon, according to an official spokesperson, who added that the policy was being aligned to the directives and observations of the Supreme Court as well as Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The policy is being drafted after taking views of stakeholders including private bus operators and mini bus operators.

In another step to eliminate the transport mafia, Capt Amarinder suggested permits to have registration numbers of buses mentioned thereon for plying.

He also suggested that GPS systems should be installed in all buses to ensure their effective tracking in order to prevent misuse of permits, which incidentally was rampant during the previous regime.

The CM also asked the department to work out the modalities of allowing transfer of permits after charging some fee. The transfer of permits was earlier allowed only on condemnation of a bus to a new bus or by way of inheritance. 

Underlining his government’s commitment to provide employment, the CM suggested measures to augment the intra-city transport system by introducing permits for small buses to youth under the 'Yaari Enterprise' and 'Apni Gaddi Apna Rozgar' schemes proposed in the Congress manifesto for employment generation.