Odisha’s Mo Bus receives UN’s prestigious public service award

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.