With about 400 ‘unfit' Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses plying the roads, there is a likelihood that you will see a broken down bus every other day in the city. “Frequent breakdowns because of mechanical faults clearly indicate lack of maintenance at the depots,” said a BMTC insider. Added to this is the non-availability of spare parts that has led to poorly maintained buses, sources in the corporation said.
While new buses lose their sheen and ability after a year of service, old buses, which see a makeover every year before obtaining fitness certificate from the Transport Department, become rickety within a month.
The creation of a three-tier system of administration was designed to increase efficiency, but maintenance of buses has taken a beating in the corporation, sources in the BMTC said. The three-tier system has only added to the establishment cost of the corporation.
Ganganna (name changed), a BMTC driver, said that faulty or defective spare parts are not replaced with new ones but with old and overhauled parts that would last only for a few months. “How do you expect the bus to run smoothly in such a situation,” he asked. Divisions, created for decentralisation of administration, have only decentralised corruption and inefficiency, he said.
Apart from these problems are the pothole-ridden city roads that add to the deteriorating condition of the buses, said a BMTC official. Suspension, blade sets and the steering column of a bus get damaged very fast in such road conditions, the official said.
The corporation scraps buses that are more than 10 years old or that have clocked 8 lakh km. Since the corporation has not procured new bus for about two years now, its annual plan to scrap about 400 old buses has been put on hold and the old buses continue to run on city roads. With non-availability of new buses, the BMTC had even planned to buy 50 old buses from the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC).
A senior official told The Hindu that creation of divisions has provided more number of supervisory personnel. Admitting that there had been a slack in maintenance, the officer said divisional controllers, divisional mechanical engineers and depot managers have been strictly warned about recurrences of any lapses.
They have been directed to ensure the presence of more mechanical staff at the depots during nights rather than the day.
Mechanics can fix the problems at night since the buses would be out throughout the day, the officer said.