Anil Kumar Sastry

Bus utility pushes its pricey coaches at the cost of the cheaper Parisara Vahini

BANGALORE: When the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) announced last year that it will deploy over 500 specially designed Suvarna coaches exclusively to cater to the peak hour traffic, hard-pressed commuters were elated.It was also announced that these buses will strictly ply four hours each during the morning and evening peak hours and travel by standing will not be allowed.

However, when these buses were pressed into service in mid-2008, commuters were for a shock. Not only were the fares high , but also none of the passes, including the daily passes, were allowed in Suvarna. Later, BMTC introduced a special monthly pass at Rs. 800 for this service. Still shocking was that these buses would replace Parisara Vahinis during off peak hours leaving little option to a hapless waiting commuter.

More coaches

In 2007-08, BMTC built and inducted nearly 620 new buses, including 450 Parisara Vahinis (ordinary service), 13 each Vajras and Vayu Vajras, 100 Pusphaks and 15 Suvarnas. However, till October 2008, BMTC built and inducted nearly 450 new buses, including 200 Suvarnas, 25 Suvarna Pushpaks, 34 Pushpaks, 97 Vajras, 27 Vayu Vajras and only 60 Parisara Vahinis. BMTC plans to induct 1,200 more buses before the completion of this financial year. The total fleet size of BMTC has reached over 5,000.

Unwilling commuters

Harish Kumar, a private firm employee, said that during the Deepavali holidays, BMTC had lined up only Suvarna buses at the Kempegowda Bus Station (KBS) while Parisara Vahinis were out of sight. Many people like him were the unwilling commuters on a Suvarna destined towards K.R. Puram, he said. Mr. Harish alleged that during off peak hours and holidays, BMTC pushes in Suvarna in a large number to make more money, he added.

Student pass holders also cannot travel in Suvarna coaches.

“Sometimes, we do not get Parisara Vahinis even after waiting for hours and we will be forced to board a Suvarna and pay through our nose,” rued Manasi H.R., a B.Com. student in a Malleswaram college.

Her “travel as you like pass” meant for students and issued at half the price of regular monthly passes is of no use for Suvarna.

While the minimum fare in Parisara Vahini and Pushpak services are Rs. 3 and 4 respectively, it is Rs. 5 in Suvarna. Presently Suvarna services are operated till a distance of 38 km (19 stages) and the fare for this distance is Rs. 17 in Suvarna, Rs. 12 in Parisara Vahini and Rs. 14 in Pushpak. Monthly passes (approximately Rs. 2.5 lakh) and day passes (1.4 lakh a day) are of no use in Suvarna services.

Amenities

A senior BMTC official, however, denied that BMTC was attempting to make more money through Suvarna. He said the coaches offer comfortable travel and hence the fares were on a higher side. He denied that Suvarnas were being pushed on hapless commuters and said that the BMTC was on a big expansion spree inducting various categories of buses.

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