Anil Kumar Sastry
Overcrowding, erratic services and reckless driving make it an arduous travel For over 50 per cent of people who rely on BMTC buses and autorickshaws for their daily commuting, the journey is anything but comfortable.The Hindudoes a reality check on the public transport woes of the burgeoning hi-tech city.
Over 34 lakh people travel every day by BMTC busesOver 4,000 buses and 60,000 trips a day are inadequate Lack of road space is preventing BMTC from introducing more buses Footboard travel has become inevitable during peak hours
BANGALORE: Travel by a Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) bus is becoming more and more arduous for the people.
While the services continue to remain poor because of overcrowding in buses, inconvenient seats and erratic service depriving over 34 lakh commuters the value for money, the steep increase in bus fares has annoyed the commuters.
BMTC has been contending that private vehicles, such as cars and motorcycles eat up road space preventing it from operating more buses. Higher purchasing power of the public is the reason for the increasing number of private vehicles. The failure of BMTC to provide regular, sufficient and convenient services is cited as the reason for people opting for private vehicles for regular commuting.
Abnormally high fares on short-distance travel in buses have made commuting by two-wheeler more cost-effective. In some cases, it works out cheaper for three persons to travel by autorickshaws and share the fare.
Footboard travel with commuters precariously hanging from BMTC buses is common in the city in the morning and evening peak hours. Pathetic service on ring roads has driven people to maxi-cabs.
Erratic service is another problem that remains unsolved. Bus drivers do not stick to schedules. It is not uncommon to see BMTC buses competing with one another for passengers. The last trip late in the night is a nightmare for commuters; on some days, the buses that never arrive.
Drivers too contribute their bit to the misery of commuters. Haphazard parking at bus stops, skipping stops en-route, and racing with another bus are the common complaints. The "Saarathi" patrol teams formed to keep an eye on the drivers have made little difference.
The corporation has been arguing that unless public transport is given priority, it will be impossible to render sufficient, convenient and timely service. Its demand for dedicated bus lanes on all the important roads has not been met by other agencies concerned. Lack of coordination among various civic agencies has aggravated the problem. Volvo buses have been introduced on important routes to lure private vehicle users. Although the services have been getting good response, lack of road space is posing problems to the BMTC. Mini buses on select routes to fight the maxi-cab menace have proved to be ineffective. BMTC has a fleet of 4,000 buses and plans to add another 1,000 buses this year.
But where is the space for these buses?