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Explained: What is Odisha’s Mo Bus, recipient of the UN’s prestigious public service award?

The Mo Bus service was launched on November 6, 2018 to ensure "transformation of the urban public transport scenario in the city and its hinterland through use of smart technology, service benchmarking and customer satisfaction".

The public transport service has been recognised for its role in "promoting gender-responsive public services.

Mo Bus, the bus service of Odisha’s Capital Region Urban Transport (CRUT) authority, has been recognised by the United Nations as one of 10 global recipients of its annual Public Service Awards for 2022, it was reported on Wednesday (June 22).

The public transport service has been recognised for its role in “promoting gender-responsive public services to achieve the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)”, the UN said.

Among the other winners of this year’s awards, announced by Liu Zhenmin, United Nations Under Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs during a virtual event to commemorate the United Nations Public Service Day (celebrated on June 22), were public service initiatives from Thailand, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Panama, the Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, and Ukraine.

Recognition for Odisha

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The UN recognition said the “problem” was that “bus services in the city of Bhubaneswar needed improvement”, as a result of which “the majority of people used private vehicles, two-wheelers and auto-rickshaw to commute instead of taking public transportation”.

As the “solution”, the Odisha government in 2018 “reorganized the public transit services in the city to provide an integrated, reliable and inclusive public bus service system”. Mo Bus, the UN noted, has incorporated “real-time technologies like live tracking, travel planner and e-ticketing”, and an e-rickshaw system called ‘Mo E-Ride’ has been introduced as a last-mile feeder service.

The “impact” is that 57 per cent of the city’s commuters now use the Mo Bus, the UN said. Mo E-Ride is estimated to reduce pollution by 30-50 per cent. Also, “40 per cent of Mo Bus conductors are women and 100 percent of Mo E-Ride drivers are women, transgender people, and people from disadvantaged communities,” the UN noted.

The Mo Bus service

According to the CRUT website, the Mo Bus service was launched on November 6, 2018 to ensure “transformation of the urban public transport scenario in the city and its hinterland through use of smart technology, service benchmarking and customer satisfaction”.
CRUT plans to introduce 289 buses in three phases with the induction of 200 new buses and refurbishment of 89 old buses, the website says. The service is proposed to be extended to Cuttack soon, it says.

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The buses are designed to integrate smart technologies such as free on-board Wi-Fi service, digital announcements, surveillance cameras, and electronic ticketing. CRUT says that to increase women’s participation in the workforce, and to make women riders feel safer, it is committed to ensuring that 50% of Mo Bus Guides (conductors) are women.

Airconditioned Mo Bus fares start at Rs 5 and go up to Rs 70; non-AC fares are from Rs 5 to Rs 55.

Mo Bus’s other honours

In 2019, the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs conferred a special award on CRUT the Bhubaneswar City Bus Modernisation Project, popularly known as the Mo Bus service. The citation, awarded during the 12th Urban Mobility India Conference-cum-Expo 2019 in Lucknow, read: “The project is a boost to people’s confidence in the use of affordable intra-city services offering the potential to relieve congestion and timely mobility to commuters.”

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In 2020, the MoHUA conferred the 13th Urban Mobility India Award on CRUT for “Innovations undertaken in Urban Transport during Covid-19”, and in 2021, the 14th Urban Mobility India Award on Odisha as the “State which had Implemented the Best Urban Transport Projects during the previous year”.

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UN Public Service Award

The UN describes its Public Service Awards as the “most prestigious international recognition of excellence in public service”. It is intended to reward “the creative achievements and contributions of public service institutions that lead to a more effective and responsive public administration in countries worldwide”.

“Through an annual competition, the UN Public Service Awards promotes the role, professionalism and visibility of public service,” it says.

The UN Public Service Day celebrates the value and virtue of public service to the community, highlights its contribution in the development process, recognizes the work of public servants, and encourages young people to pursue careers in the public sector. The first Awards ceremony was held in 2003, and the UN has since received “an increasing number of submissions from all around the world”.

First published on: 23-06-2022 at 05:40:13 pm
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