“I got to know about the free bus service through the newspaper. Although I have stayed in Bengaluru for many years, I have never seen the airport. I don’t travel that much, but today was a nice opportunity since the ride is free. I can visit the airport and come back,” said H.S. Parvathi, a former teacher, who was riding on the airport bus service.
Twenty-five years after the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), which at the time included Bangalore Transport Service (BTS), became a corporation and adopted the name Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), the BMTC marked the event by offering free services across the board on Monday. Passengers were thrilled by the initiative and came with their family and friends to avail the free ride. The free service covered all ordinary, AC and special Volvo buses that are run by the BMTC.
“It’s amazing to not have to drive to my workplace today. I am usually very exhausted by the time I reach my office, so it is nice to be able to relax and commute,” said Gagan, who said he had travelled by the bus for the first time.
Most of the passengers were regular bus travellers. A majority of the passengers heard about the free ride through the news, a few were welcomed by a pleasant surprise when the bus conductor did not ask them to pay the bus fare. ”I am happy to be able to help poor people reach their destination for free,” said a bus driver, Basappa.
The buses were filled with people who also carried along with them the tricolour to celebrate the Independence Day. The crowds were a mix of first time BMTC users as well as regular commuters.
“My parents stay here, so whenever I travel from Delhi, I tend to travel by bus because it’s more economical. It’s ₹1400 for a cab and ₹250 for a bus. It was a lot more crowded than usual, probably because it was free. I didn’t know that the ride was free, but then I was happy that it was, at least I saved some money,” said Agrima Khanna, a student from Delhi.
“It is the first time that I’m travelling in an airport bus in Bengaluru. I got to know about it recently and I knew that the ride would be free on (the) Independence Day. I wanted to see how it is. I would say the crowd is a bit too much, but if it was empty it would be nice. I don’t know about the price, but my friends have travelled in it, and they say it’s almost five times cheaper than the cabs. But if the crowd is less, I would choose a bus over a cab,” said Amit Ghosh, a software engineer.
“Not many people travel in this number every day. It’s only today that I have seen such a crowd. I called passengers at bus stops asking them to board because it was a free ride. I don’t think it should happen every day, but I felt happy to have a day of rest,” said Shailaja C.N., conductor of a KIA-9 bus.