First edition of Prawaas 2017 draws to a successful close

–          Over 10,000 participants, 110 speakers and more than 120 exhibitors share ideas and display products

–          Pravas Excellence Awards with Redbus and Tata Motors recognized the best in bus operators and services

Mumbai, 30 July 30, 2017The third and final day of the Prawaas 2017 Bus and Car Show drew to a close with more discussions and debates on the country’s most critical transport service. The event has brought a sense of direction to all stakeholders, with unanimous agreement that the time for an association like BOCI is ripe and it is high time we shift our priority to public transport.

A session on Expanding Business thorough Innovative Financing was chaired by Ms. Chhaya Palrecha CFO of Prasanna Purple Mobility Solutions. The panel talked about the need to see challenges as universal and industry based rather than entrepreneur specific. The discussion covered the existing options of listing on MSE exchange for smaller players to derive better business opportunities.

The panel also talked about the customer as increasingly demanding of newer, better and more customized products and services, especially in the digital and social space. The need for innovative packages and solutions from the lending institutions including banks was discussed, as was the fact that the commercial vehicle business has not seen the kind of disruption that other tech-led sectors have. GST was touched upon as the next challenge and opportunity with one of the panel members saying that GST will help operators get acknowledgement on invoices faster.

The session on Improving Employee Efficiency through Effective Employee Transportation, was chaired by Major Aditi Mohan, VP, Facilities & Infra, Security & Employee Transportation & General Services , Fidelity National Financial India Pvt Ltd.

Talking about the importance of ease of travel in connection with employee productivity and women safety, the panel urged the government to recognize the role that transporters were playing in this regard. Some suggested that dedicated BRT lanes like that in Pune or Ahmedabad be considered while the panel conceded that the challenges have grown because of the dynamic changes due to shift in geographical locations and infrastructure.

The panel was in consensus when it came to discussing women’s safety. Proper background checks should be the norm and companies should report any deviations as soon as they find out. Driver incentives to ultimately better customer experiences was also talked about.

There was a lot of interest in the session on School Transportation – Providing Safe & Secure Student Travel, chaired by Mr. Siddiq Gandhi, VP, President, School Bus, Gujarat, Bus Operators Confederation of India (BOCI).

The panel highlighted the several factors that have made school bus transportation a hot topic. Given the fact that it is children, emotions naturally run high and with parents now more aware than ever before, standards expected are higher. Safety and comfort were both highlighted as the examples of buses designed specifically to meet these needs. Schools noted that there is a need to train drivers since most parent complaints center around driver mannerisms, behavior, bus condition etc. It was also emphasized that there was a need to ensure that buses have proper travel permits and are well equipped with first aid kits and fire safety norms.

From a policy perspective, the panel raised the question as to when there is a central motor vehicle act in place already, why the need for state rules and policies and the delay in implementing them.

In the session on Next Gen Tech in Bus Body Structure, Mr. MA Patwardhan, DGM, ARAI talked about the key factors shaping the bus market, with the challenges faced by bus manufacturers including increasing consumer demands, competition and changing Govt. regulations. He shed light on the future trends in safety, comfort of passengers, improved noise control and go green measures. The panel pondered on the challenges posed by unprecedented urbanisation in India with its inherent problems of pollution, commuting time and the need for more environment friendly vehicles but at affordable prices.

The Group Discussions in the latter part of the day covered important issues like insurance, toll and GST.

In the session on Insurance, the Chair, Mr. Anil Chhikara, Motor Licensing Officer, Transport Dept, Inspection & Certification, State Transport Authority lauded how the framework and foundation of transport sector has been laid out for India because of BOCI through the platform of Prawaas 2017. He talked about how insurance will now be given out to drivers and conductors as well as victims of accidents, along with laying emphasis on how technology should be leveraged for making appropriate claim and maximizing the benefits to the victim or family.

Mr. Dharmaraj, Additional Secretary, BOCI highlighted the various insurance related problems that have plagued bus operators calling it unmanageable and a tricky subject to deal with. He highlighted the fact that there has been a 200% rise in passenger premiums since the last three years. He said that insurance companies need to restrict claim amounts so that no bogus claims are put forth recommending that there should be stricter time frames for settlements.

 The session on Toll was chaired by Mr. Sutanu Pati, Independent PPP expert who put forth his belief that the way toll is levied on passengers should be managed better as the current scenario is extremely chaotic.  Long queues leads to wastage of fuel and time which can be avoided if more systematic approaches were taken.

 Mr. Sanjay Shirodkar, Freelancer/Activist aggressively spoke on how the transport community has been facing toll problems since several years because of how toll collection practices are prone to corruption and malpractice. He urged the Govt. to work with a body like BOCI for sound inputs and implement these insights to make tolls corruption free.

 The session on GST was Chaired and presented by Mr. Hari Bhai Patel, Vice President, Tourist Taxis & Maxi Cabs (Ahmedabad, Gujarat) BOCI who requested BOCI to come forward and put forth their transport problems in the next GST council meeting, which is scheduled for 4th August. The audience echoed his sentiments voicing their request that the GST be brought down to 12% from the current 28% for purchase of vehicles.

 Mr. S Rajkumar, Managing Partner, Royal Tours & Travels explained to the audience how GST is applicable to the transport industry and took them through the terms and guidelines to be followed along with the datelines for filing GST. He urged people to seek help to avoid confusion.

 The concluding address by Shri Sudhakar S Sonawane, Mayor, Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation congratulated BOCI for the successful first edition of Prawaas 2017 and expressed his hope to witness an even more successful second edition.

 About BOCI

Bus Operators Confederation of India (BOCI) was constituted on 4th February 2016. BOCI is a non-government, not-for-profit, Passenger transport industry-led and managed organization that plays a proactive role in India’s development process. The organization promotes, encourages, co-ordinates, safe and secure passenger transport by coach and buses within India and its nearby countries. It acts as interface between thought leaders to enhance efficiency, competitiveness and business opportunities for its members by providing range of specialized services and strategic global linkages. BOCI provides a platform for consensus building and networking on key issues amongst its members. The organization brings in all State associations and Unions under one umbrella to achieve better coordination and confidence by establishing a system of Operator accreditation.