As cabs gets costlier, travellers shift to BMTC’s airport services

In March, 80 schedules of the Vayu Vajra services were operated and now, it has touched 94. On weekends, additional services are operated depending on arrivals of flights.

In March, 80 schedules of the Vayu Vajra services were operated and now, it has touched 94. On weekends, additional services are operated depending on arrivals of flights. | Photo Credit: file photo

The long wait and high fares for a taxi from Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) is forcing passengers to opt for the Vayu Vajra services operated by the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), which has gradually increased the number of airport services and is inching closer to the pre-COVID revenue levels.

From 80 Vayu Vajra services in March, it’s now 94. On weekends, additional services are operated depending on arrivals of flights.

With increased ridership, the daily revenue has jumped from ₹15.65 lakh (in March) to ₹21 lakh (in May), getting closer to the pre-pandemic levels of around ₹24 lakh.

A BMTC official said, “Vayu Vajra services are cheaper than taxis to travel to and from the airport. This is one of the factors favouring the buses. Also, flight operations — both domestic and international — increased from April, resulting in more footfall. Depending on the arrival details, we are running the required number of Vayu Vajra services.”

Air passengers have been complaining about a slew of issues — longer waiting time, drivers demanding excess fare, not taking toll roads but asking passengers to pay toll fee at the end of the trip, and not switching the meter on. Aggregators are yet to resolve these issues.

Ranjan V., an air passenger said, “I was waiting for over half an hour to book a cab. Like me, there were many other people. Then, BMTC bus crew approached me, and asked where I was heading to. I told him Shantinagar. He shared more details about the bus service. When I agreed to travel by bus, he took our luggage and helped us to board the bus. The crew was very polite and professional. It was a good journey and we saved a lot of money as well”.

First and last mile connectivity

Though the Vayu Vajra services are economical compared to taxis, the first-mile and the last-mile connectivity from bus stops is an issue for passengers.

Rakshita Prakash, another regular traveller, said, “There is no doubt that fares are economical compared to taxis. However, for women passengers, finding a taxi or an auto from bus stops late at night is an issue”.

Passengers also feel that the BMTC has to work on making the services more reliable by providing a mobile app that helps passengers to book tickets, track bus arrival, and others. Earlier, the BMTC had allowed the passengers to book tickets online on the KSRTC website, but after the outbreak of the pandemic, it was discontinued.

Director (IT ) of BMTC A.V. Surya Sen said the corporation is working on further popularising services.

“Passenger occupancy is good on trips coming from the airport. However, for certain reasons, occupancy is low on buses going to the airport. Passengers may be anxious about buses reaching on time. We have already taken measures to increase the frequency and make services more reliable.”

The BMTC has started services from new points to the airport. Recently, services were introduced from Kengeri.

The official added that the BMTC will hold talks with Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) to open counters near the exit point to assist the air passengers. “There are some concerns raised over non-availability of security staff at the TTMC or major bus stops when the buses arrive at night. We have taken measures to deploy required security staff at night,” said the official.

Vajra AC bus revenue jumps after fare reduction 

The reduction in fares of Vajra AC buses operated in city limits is paying rich dividends to the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation with the revenue doubling.

After the outbreak of the pandemic, a majority of the BMTC buses remained off road. Work from home option for lakhs of people working in IT sectors and others forced the corporation to operate a limited number of services. Mid-December, the Corporation had reduced the Vajra fares by 34% and started operating more services. Meanwhile, the number of people working from office also gradually increased and this worked in favour of the corporation.

Mid–December, the corporation was running 75 Vajra services in city limits and now it has been increased to 258. The revenue has gone up from ₹ 7 lakh per day to ₹17.37 lakh.

“Earlier, we were operating a limited number of services on IT corridors such as ORR, Whitefield and Electronics City. Due to increased demand, we have gradually increased the services. For example, over 50 services are operating on ORR. After the outbreak of the pandemic, there was hardly any demand for monthly passes. But now, over 2200 are purchasing monthly passes to travel in Vajra services,” an official of the BMTC said.

On the other hand, the BMTC is introducing AC buses on new routes and running AC buses on suburban routes too.

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Printable version | May 25, 2022 9:13:54 pm |