Every day, Saraswathi Vishakan struggles to make her way back home after working an over 10-hour shift at a large garment store in Majestic. Buses are easy to get around 9 p.m., however, the walk from her store to the bus terminus and from the bus-stop at Kengeri to her house is difficult.
Near her workplace, the roads are bustling, but populated with bars and low on security, and back home, the streets are poorly-lit and desolate. “Both are equally scary,” she says.
Rashmi Mukundan, an IT employee, who works in M.G. Road and lives in HRBR Layout agrees. “When I get delayed, the 10-minute walk from the bus-stop to home is harrowing. There’s just no one on the roads after 9 p.m.,” she says, adding that approach roads to her home are poorly-lit too.
Will the deadline extension for eateries through the week, and bars and pubs in the weekend, help them? They’re both indifferent because in any case they don’t feel safe to go out to grab a bite, but hope that plans to increase police patrolling will extend to residential and non-commercial areas too.
Heartening as the police’s plans are, the pre-poll announcement that is perhaps designed to capture the youth vote, has its share of sceptics. “Simply extending the timing won’t do. Having a city that works round-the-clock, also requires stepping up infrastructure,” K.S. Vimala of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), who believes that an up-and-about city will mean that working women will feel safe. This means getting a night fleet for buses, ensuring these commutes are safe, increasing safety in residential areas and, most importantly, stepping up police patrol, she says.
So as the city readies itself to embrace the new deadline, do we have the infrastructure in place to be able to support it? Currently, the Namma Metro shuts down at 11 p.m., BMTC operates a skeletal fleet — of about 70 to 80 buses — after 9 p.m. and given the streets are deserted autorickshaws aren’t considered safe.
“The city will need a whole new approach. Not everyone can afford cabs, so why not keep the buses operating till 1 a.m.? Until that happens I don’t see too many people hang around. Currently, public transport past 9.30 p.m. is hugely inadequate,” says Vinay Sreenivasa of the Bus Prayanikara Vedike.
When contacted, G.N. Veeregowda, General Manager of the BMTC, said they were not averse to increasing trips. “We run about 80 buses now. If there is an increase in demand, which there isn’t currently, we can consider extending it,” he said.