WIDE ANGLE Bengaluru

Only 50% of bus stops in Bengaluru have shelters

People wait for BMTC buses at Balakundri Circle bus stop, during rains, in Bengaluru on May 21.

People wait for BMTC buses at Balakundri Circle bus stop, during rains, in Bengaluru on May 21. | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

Recently, a 30-year-old man died near Hebbal bus stop after he was electrocuted by an illegally drawn wire by a private advertisement agency. As the city moves towards pre-COVID scenarios, and with the impending arrival of the monsoon, the focus is back on the poor status of bus shelters, or a lack thereof, for the city’s commuters.

An official of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which maintains bus stops, admitted that only 50% of bus stops in the city have bus shelters.

Where is the bus stop?

Citizens questioned the utilitarian value of the bus stops/shelters. They pointed out that if one is not a regular commuter on a particular route, it becomes a Herculean task to identify bus stops, especially on the outskirts like Yelahanka, Jigani, Nelamangala and others.

At some places, there are not even signages to indicate the presence of bus stops. Even within the Central Business District (CBD), some prominent bus stops do not have bus shelters.  

“The buses too sometimes do not halt at the stops that do not have shelters if there are just one or two people waiting. Vijayanagar, is where I board my bus. Yet, come rain or shine, we have not had a bus shelter here for decades”, said Babu of Vijayanagar Vendors Association. He also said as a person who only uses BMTC as a mode of transport, has seen more stops without shelters in the city than the ones which have.

At bus stops, where there are shelters, there are other problems, like broken roofs and benches, and dirty platforms. Vinay Sreenivasa of Bengaluru Bus Prayanikara Vedike (BBPV) pointed out how even though BMTC is the most relied upon public transport system in the city, the civic body does not care about its maintenance.

He added: “Shelters too are designed in such a way that if people sit on the seats, they cannot see the incoming bus. They have to stand up to take a look, which defeats the purpose of the shelter”.

Safety issues

Women commuters made a note of how they do not feel safe at the bus stops, due to dim or even no lighting. Some even confessed to facing harassment at bus stops even during day time. “Especially on the outskirts, where there will not be many people, many take advantage and catcall or eve tease, even when we are in groups”, said Nayana, an NGO worker, who often travels by buses to her assignments.

Geeta Menon of the Domestic Workers Union also mentioned how most spaces at bus shelters are usually occupied by men and women stand a few meters away due to security fears.

The disabled and senior citizens in the city face their own share of problems at these bus stops — from seats without backrests to no drinking water or restroom facilities, and lack of boarding assistance. “When senior citizens come to bus stops, they will obviously prefer to sit and wait for the buses. These seats are sometimes broken or dirty. Coming to disabled people, except for main depots, at other bus stops there are no ramps or assistance to help them board the bus. There will be too much gap between the platform and the road”, said V.S. Basavaraju, former state Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities.

‘Not in front of my property’

A senior official of BBMP said that the main reason behind the lack of bus shelters in the city is the citizens’ “not in front of my property” mindset. “No property owner wants a bus shelter in front of their property as they think it will reduce its commercial value or affect business. The bus shelters should be at least two feet in length and people are not good with giving out this space to the public. Additionally, we also have to ensure that we do not build bus stops where important lines of BWSSB or Bescom pass,” he explained.

Ashish Verma, professor, Sustainable Transportation Lab, IISc, mentioned how in Bengaluru, the public transport provider, BMTC, has almost no say in the planning, construction and maintenance of bus stops, which is one of the root causes of the problems. “The location of where the bus stops should be, their design and orientation are unfortunately not seen from the public point of view. The BBMP’s focus is more on revenue, which is why they build bus shelters in areas where they can get more ads,” he pointed out.

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Printable version | May 21, 2022 6:46:14 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/only-50-of-bus-stops-in-bengaluru-have-shelters/article65430909.ece