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BMTC's airport service - experience

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Public Transport

[Since's Goerge's experience got lost in talks of PPP, privatization etc, I am posting this in a new thread]

Got to use BMTC's Whitefield to BIA service yesterday. Went to Hope Farm junction in an auto, and noticed that there was a special board marking the BIAL bus stop. I was there at 1:35 pm, and as per the listed times, a non-A/C service should have shown up in a few minutes. Even though a non-A/C bus was parked about half a km back in Whitefield, nothing showed up. Waiting for the bus wasn't fun - strong sun, no shelter, and no paved surface to rest my luggage.

By the time it was 2, I was getting nervous about catching my 4 pm flight. However, a Volvo showed up at 14:10 (5 minutes late, not bad). I got to be the solo passenger. 150 Rs, and an A/c bus all to myself, wow! Another guy joined in at ITPL, but that was it, it was just the two of us all the way.

The thing that stands out about the Volvo buses is not the air conditioning or clean interiors. Its the acceleration and speed. These buses gather speed really quickly, and literally move at same pace as private cars. And since the driver wasn't afraid to be aggressive at intersections or face-off situations, our Volvo raced well with a naughty black Scorpio all the way till ORR.

2:10 pm at Hope Farm / Whitefield, to BIA at 3:20 pm, 70 minutes was not bad at all! On the way, there was a "near miss" on NH7 though. Our driver created a 'fourth' lane to overtake three lorries moving slow in tandem and parallel. While doing this, our bus almost rammed into a slow moving Santro on the edge of the road. Now I know the volvos have real solid brakes. But a verbal fight ensued, and after hearing the exchange of abuses for about 5 minutes, and just when the fight was going to turn physical, I intervened to force a resumption of our journey.

So all in all, encouraging and very usable. I only wish a cab had picked me up at home for a smooth end to end ride. And, wish more people will use the service or demand "last-mile" connectivity from BMTC. I hear that this route (Whitefield) is the least used of all airport routes, and might be scrapped. Well, lets see.

Comments

Naveen's picture

UnSafe Roads - Another Example

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The Volvo may have done it's job for those anxious to get to the airport, but was'nt it unsafe for the Santro, as also for other vehicles en-route ?

If there had been a collision, occupant/s in the Santro might have been seriously injured, if not lost their lives.

The competition on the roads has now reached a point where lives have become insignificant & unimportant. Steps need to be taken to reduce such undesirable situations.

 

narayan82's picture

Bus Lane,

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Even if we did have a bus lane, who would control these drivers not to exit the lane to overtake another bus? Drivers must be given relaistic times, and courses in patience. I have notied aborad, that busses enevr over take each other and follow a very strict lane discipline. Obviously it is hard to implement it across all lanes but bus driver should be educated on this issue. It would be a start in the right direction.
Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
Bangalore
tsubba's picture

system issue

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we all know this. palike does the stops. saarige does the rolling stock. this is how it will be if saarige does routes that it considers useful. if they do routes that palike provides for, then you get shelter,pavement etc...
Naveen's picture

Paalike & Saarige Must Co-Ordinate

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I think BBMP & BMTC must co-ordinate better - BBMP cannot provide routes to BMTC as their knowledge for route requirements may not be well-aligned with realities - BMTC may have better know-how, being bus operators.

 

narayan82's picture

privatise bus stops?

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would it be feasable to ask a private party to build the bus shelter as an enclosed unit (air conditioned maybe). He can also be asked to maintain and provide a 24 hour security guard(s). In return the Private party can be allowed advertising rights, maybe sell bus tickets in the busstop itself (he gets a cut of it) and also if there is scope/place have a Cafe/bookstore/vending machine(s) inside too. This would be like a BOOT project. The private party can also ensure that the busses line up and park only outside the bust stop and not in the middle of the road. Maybe the operator of the bus stop is also the operator of a Last Mile Connectivity Taxi/Auto Service?
Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
Bangalore
silkboard's picture

Next - back from Airport to home

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Reached BIA this morning from Pune at 9:20am, and was at the bus stand by 9:40 am. Started walking towards the bus stand, when this thought crossed my mind . Why is it that parking area - 4 (the expensive one) is the closest to terminal building? The bus bays should be the closest to the building, not this parking area.

Anyway. reached the bus stand and found at least 5 people waiting to ask me where I wanted to go. Found a route 6 bus standing. Sat inside, only to be told by the conductor that the bus will leave only at 10:20. I did have the taxi option, but I wanted to try the bus no matter what. So spent those 30 minutes with newspapers and phone.

By the time we left (at 10:20 am), the bus had about 10 passengers. We reached Whitefield/Varthur road only by 11:55 !! More than 90 minutes. Main bottlenecks? Those three signals between Hebbal and K R Puram. Bus driver himself seem frustrated, and the horn was his outlet.

Now, once dropped near my home, I couldn't find any auto around. Had to walk up to home. No issues, I just had one bag to lug. But this would be a big deal for  passengers with more bags.

Another interesting thing. A passenger wanting to go to Adugodi, ended up coming with us to Kadugodi. He didn't know Kadugodi wasn't close to Koramangala. Need to have A route and city map on and inside the bus. 

All in all, after this two-way and complete experience, the need for two things became only clearer 1) dedicated bus lanes, or something to let buses cross the signals on priority, and 2) last-mile drop+pickup. Both of these aren't specific to Airport buses, though #2 can be termed as critical for the airport service (because you travel with luggage)

For last-mile connectivity, they do have a tie up with cellcabs, but for some reason, the fact is not that well publicized. Dont hear of the cab drop/pickup getting used that much. 

90 minutes spent inside the bus, plus the 30 minute wait to start, and then the last-mile 5 minute walk back home with two laptops - well. The hassle is worth it only if you love the space and time quality public transport gives you. But, I kind of think that without hassle-free last-mile drops, popularity of airport-to-city trips will drop with time. Notice that what I observed on this trip was the reverse (2 up vs 10 down).

BMTC driver and assistant were very enthusiastic though, and told me 'they' are working to make traffic better on ORR. "Mattay bannee saar, timings improve aagutte". They seemed to be feeling bad about the rather long journey time. But we know its not their fault. 50 kms can be done in 50 minutes, just ask Murali Sir and Naveen :)

rajivjoshi's picture

My Experience with BMTC to BIAL

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On tue May 27, I decided to take BMTC bus from J P Nagar 6th phase to BIAL and here is how it went.

Previous day(May 26), I went to the bus stop to find out the schedule and was pleasantly surprised to know that they had a bus every 15 min round the clock. On the day of my journey, I reached the J P Nagar 6th phase bus stop at 4:45 am and was glad to see the controller still awake.  The schedule of the bus during that hour was 4:05, 4:20, 4:35, 4:50, 5:10, 5:30, 5:45, 6:00 .   When enquired he mentioned that the 4:05 bus had just left and asked me to wait for 15 min to catch the next one. It turned out that the 4:20 and 4:35 bus never left and the 4:05 bus left at 4:40 am. Within 10 min, another bus came but clearly the driver and conductor needed some rest before they could drive again. So, my bus finally left at 5:20 am.  So, if you have followed me so far, between 4:00 and 5:20 only 2 buses operated as opposed to 6 per the timetable.  With this kind of reliability, one cannot bank on reaching the airport at the designated time.

however, what was pleasantly surprising was the journey time. Given that there is no traffic during that hour, it took exactly 1 hr to reach Bangalore Airport from J P Nagar 6th phase. So, I was in the airport sharp at 6:20 am.

The BMTC  authorities need to take thier commitments to the public seriously.

narayan82's picture

Extended Taxis?

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I did see today a FORD Endeavor Limousine. It was built in Chennai. It was almost the size of a Volvo in lenght!

Can this be an elternative form of public transport? It seemed quiet, efficent and smart! BIAL connectivity might suit such a product. Also the Air Lift Taxi seems very interesting. Rs 300 to the airport from anywhere in bangalore. In Car entertainment with LCD screens WiFi connectivity and courteuos service - is what they promise.

Would like to see connectivity as an oppurtunity to innovate rather than a problem!

Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
Bangalore
Naveen's picture

Bus Stop Facilities = Recognizing BRTS

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Narayan - Yr Ideas :

"Private party to build bus shelters as an enclosed unit (AC, maybe), Private party allowed advertising rights, Sell bus tickets in the busstop & also have a Cafe/bookstore/vending machine(s) inside, like a BOOT project, Buses line up & park only outside the bus stop, also operate last mile connectivity"

With these comments -- You are getting dangerously close to the textbook definition of BRTS finally, & I am glad that that the realization is beginning to dawn on you, at least.

As I said earlier, the quality of bus services will only be as good as the traffic conditions allow - & with BIAL bus services, as SB had mentioned, people might just begin to see the potential for dedicated lanes for buses.

The services mentioned by you are all a package that go with conventional BRTS. Unless bus is allocated separate lanes, what you desire will not be successful.

How will the bus-drivers stop exactly at the bus-stop with so much of other traffic violating bus-stop zones ? How will the bus enter & exit the bus-stop zone when he is operating in mixed /chaotic traffic adjacently ? How will patronization levels improve when schedules, as advertised are not being met ? How will these kiosks with cafes /bookstores /vending machines be successful when patronization levels are poor ?

What you suggest can be successful if we all agree that bus must operate with topmost priority - that is, dedicated lanes that are cordoned off for other traffic, well marked bus-stops & signs that carry timings that are dependable, etc. If this were done, you can expect the bus to arrive exactly on time, stop correctly at the right spot, kiosks to provide all commuter needs (as patronization levels will increase, making these buisnesses successful), reduction of traffic as more & more people will take to the bus, safer & better organized use of space, etc.

However, our city's society is still to see these benefits & worries unneccessarily about the "space wastage" since their cars cannot use this space - they do not realize that if a professional, dependable service is provided, it has huge potential to remove many of the cars on the streets, making the journey smoother for both, the car as well as the bus passengers. If they are all mixed up, all would suffer as they would all end up competing for road space.

Another benefit is that when dedicated bus-ways are in place, it would attract the quality operaters as profits would be assured with higher levels of patronization, & this will further boost services, bring prices down & customers would benefit greatly.

 

 

narayan82's picture

Agree

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Do Agree with what you say. Probem is, The indian's dream is to own a car! So it is going to take some convincing to stop people from using it. The trick I guess, is not to deny them a car but to use is sparingly. Maybe BRTS can be implemented in a phased manner? What if, the special buslanes were created 200 meters before and after every bus stop? Also what if we had elevated bus lanes? Like building elevated roads, only for busses? Cost would be lower than elecating the whole road, The below road users would get more space, and Bus would have a dedicated lane. This is in areas where metro doesn't exist.
Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
Bangalore
Naveen's picture

Narayan - BRTS

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Narayan,

The car has almost become indispensable for us now, & attempts to halt people buying or using them will be futile - it's best to let them do what they please. The point is, if cheaper & better alternatives are made available, these will compete with the cars & people will not use cars & instead, will opt for these alternatives. They will use their cars in cases where such alternatives do not exist or onlyv for last mile connectivity.

If the special buslanes were created 200 meters before & after every bus stop, there is no guarantee that the buses will be able to enter or exit them without time delays as the areas where such bus lanes begin /end may be clogged with traffic - bus stops should normally be close to road intersections & traffic signals for best patronization. If they are moved away, it will inconvenience passengers, & reliability on buses will be lesser. Also, other traffic may misuse such lanes when congestion levels are high.

Elevated lanes only for buses would be expensive, even if they were of narrow width. Also, arranging bus-stops & passenger access to buses becomes difficult, but there are examples where this is in use. The Monorail system in KL is being critized because there are no escalators & only stairs have been provided for passengers. This makes it difficult for aged people & others who cant climb.

 

narayan82's picture

Cars & Campaigning - Naveen

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Its sad but people (speaking of a generalized public) have a very bad perception of public transport. It is often considered to be a "lower" end of travel as opposed to "pratical" way of traveling. Also if you look at the propaganda that sells car - its is very compelling. You have Sharukh Khan saying "come and catch me" and then you have Aamir Khan endorsing another brand - so people really start wanting cars! I'm not saying we stop this, but compete against it... If we could do the same for public transport - it could change the perception. If BMTC was to launch a campaign on the lines of a Car Ad - this will change the Image it has. Maybe show a few celebs walking into busses, create a brand that people are attracted to... Maybe create a re-wards scheme, so if you ride say 50 trips a week on BMTC busses then you get 100 Rs. off at Big Bazaar! It has to be marketed with the right "positioning". For example (real life story) when I go to pitch for a client, I need to have come in a "car" not a "bus" - and if I do come in a bus then they assume - this guys has come by public transport lets negotiate for 50% less! But bottomline - Your right - I think BRTS opens out avenues that can really change the perception of Public Transport we have.
Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
Bangalore
shas3n's picture

Incentive

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Narayan, I agree with you. The most basic principle of economics is that 'people respond to incentives'. The incentive may be financial, social, physical or psychological. We will have to come up with ideas for incentivising the use of public transport and may be pass the ideas on to BMTC through the working group. Once the working group is set up and running, lets have a thread on this. BTW, I remember that around late 1980's, Mysore city buses had this scheme where all the tickets would qualify for a lucky draw at the end of the month. I was too young to appreciate the benefits this might have brought, but I am sure it did help them to make the buses a bit popular and cut ticketless travelling a bit. -Shastri

-Shastri

narayan82's picture

Incentives and the people

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'people respond to incentives' - bang on!! But the challenge here in is to have incentives that beat the "laziness" factor! People in Bangalore have become accustomed to getting into the car at the gate - and being dropped off outside the shop/destination! Those who do not fit in the category - probably are using public transport anyway! And to add to all this - Call Autos/Taxis - are just a more of a put off towards busses. Again, for example - my friends from college, I have noticed will have to catch an auto outside the house and be dropped BANG in front of Comm Street or Garuda Mall! The question of walking doesnt arise. I think a good bus system must be complemented with good pavements and lighting. And once all these elements are in place it would be fair to impose congestion tax, car cess...etc
Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
Bangalore
George E Matthew's picture

Private Sector can provide better marketing, customer service

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While BMTC is fairly efficient and well run, it suffers from an image problem.If a PPP is put is place, the private hospitaliy company will provide good marketing that can compete with the car ads. It will also give good customer service, drawing the elite into buses.

BMTC can concentrate on its core job of running and maintianing 100s of vehicles. Hats off to the only profitable metropolitan transport organization in the nation.

narayan82's picture

BMTC's New Brand - An Idea

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BMTC can create Co-Branded bus services along with Private party. I say Co branded as the on board duties can be split between the parties:

1. BMTC
The bus is ownded and driven by BMTC. This way maintenance and driver skills are still under control of one governing body. Private busses are usually not maintained as well, an driven in rash and unsafe manner. BMTC also has sufficent parking space for the busses. This will also save a good amount of investment on the private party's part.

2. Private Party's Stake
The private party collects revenue (conductor) ensures on board services/ticketing methods and advertising. Private parties can also take over bus stop maintainence and Last Mile connectivity. It can also maintain a call centre for bus timings/help...etc

By this method the B2C brand is driven by private parties - creating a more freindly and attractive package for the "elite" consumer. Also competition in this Brand can offer customers better service.

The B2B brand of BMTC (maintainence and operations) is much better not privatised. And also BMTC has the infrastructre to keep up its level of service.

The reason why we need a Brand Refresh for BMTC is that is now percieved to be a "lesser" person's transport. For example a person who used the Vajra busses will still say he came in a "volvo" to work and not in a "BMTC" bus! If Vaayu Javra/Vajra were a brand by itself - then it would attract more customers.

Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
Bangalore
Vasanth's picture

Fuel Price Increase is making people think of using Bus

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Because of the possible hike in fuel prices, people who were not at all thinking of buses are now thinking of using buses. This I heard in my office in lifts and pantries, people saying 'hey, we have the Volvo, there is also reservation facility, better to take that`.

This is the high  and right time to put the people out of car into Bus. After sometime they will get accustomed to increased fuel price.

Some people were talking about buying Automatic Scooters and some about Electric Vehicles and use car only when absolutely necessary.

I think fuel price hike is bringing in some changes. Although Bus is the ideal mode, even switching over to 2 wheeler to some extent will reduce the congestion by reducing the space occupied (6 2 wheelers in place of 1 car) on the road and reduce the amount of fuel burnt unnecessarily which is a precious resource. 

Cars get heated up when we take in the Sun if we do not have the airconditioning on even though weather outside is cool forcing the people to use aircon which adds on to more fuel consumption.

 

Naveen's picture

Bus Services - The Image Problem

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Narayan, Shastri, George,

Great ideas for improving the image of public transport & BMTC. At the present time, we will have to resort to such innovative techniques as there are no other ways to sell public transport to car users as an alternative to their cars & two-wheelers.

 

A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure” – Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister.

 

Conventional bus services, the world over are generally perceived as slow, infrequent, inconvenient, uncomfortable, and distinctly lacking in status & quality.

 

--- See the forum topic "Bus Services Suffer from an Image Problem" - We can continue our discussion there.

 

 

mandayamr's picture

Increase the use of Volvo buses

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A suggestion to the BMTC management (assuming that they will read this!)  Smile

1. For the BIAL to city services, make sure it is well publicised inside the airport.  Talk to the airport management and make it happen.  Print small booklets like the London Metro does and distribute it in the airport.  Get a small place for BMTC within the airport, and post 24X7, maybe in 6 hr shifts, staff who can guide passengers.  Alternatively, put in place touch screen kiosk that provides passengers with up-to-date information on routes and timings.  Make posters that show what bus connects which hotel (will people going to hotels take the bus?).

2. Work with airlines to increase occupancy, and give away bus coupons at reduced prices.  Learn from Lalu - it is better that a person travels - even if at a reduced cost - than not at all.  Airlines, at least the domestic ones, can distribute these coupons on flight.  Try this out - may not work ...

3. Train the conductors and drivers to ask passengers about last mile connectivity.  Get the passenger to fill up a form, and pass this data on to the controller to arrange for a taxi pick up from the designated bus stop.  It is possible, since the taxis are supposed to have the ability to track the bus location.  This can account for situations like early/late arraival of the bus at a designated point.

Maybe I am asking for too much ... but then I would put the blame on BMTC itself ... they are working hard to improve their image, and ye dil maange more!

mandayamr's picture

My experience with BMTC to BIAL (and back)

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My account on flickr in photos and with my comments:

 http://www.flickr.com/photos/rednivaram/sets/72157605375399073/detail/

I think the photos of the route map and the timings will be very useful to passengers planning to take the bus from the airport to the city

tsubba's picture

thanks red

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thank red for those pics. sure enough, i used those tables for some personal calculations i was making.
s_yajaman's picture

My letter to Airlift to cancel my booking

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After trying to get through to Airlift for the past 4 hrs, I have decided to use the friendly neighbourhood taxi service.  Here is my letter to Airlift.  They simply don't pick up their phones. 

"Dear Airlift
I request you to please cancel my booking 844XXXXXXX and refund 100% of my money.  I have wasted a lot of time this afternoon trying to get through to you.
I want to patronise your service as it seemed promising.  But you have refused to pick up the phone at your call center or the office to answer my clarifications.  I have been trying to call you for about 4 hrs now and not once have I managed to speak to anyone because you don't pick up your blessed phones.
Please tell me how you can assure me that a car will be waiting tomorrow at 4:31 a.m.  If the car does not turn up what do I do?  You people don't pick up phones in the middle of the day and I cannot hope that you will do so at 4:31 a.m.
I am sorry to do this, but I have a flight to catch in the morning and cannot trust your service to be dependable.  Please don't expect me to be waiting for your car.  I am making other arrangements. 
Regards,
Srivathsa"
They don't have a map showing locations of the pick up spots.  They don't have a cancellation feature on their website.  A good idea badly executed.  It will be a while before I trust them again.  As the saying goes - a satisfied customer will tell 1 or 2 people, a dissatisfied one will tell 20.  Let's see if they respond.

Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

ranarula's picture

Thanks mandayamr for the

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Thanks mandayamr for the pictures. Also if you add the time you took the pix (ie you were at a particular spot) it would be more useful.

 How much time it took you to undertake the journey & at what time of the day !

I too have to avail the service in a couple of days time & I am wondering if 2 hrs will be sufficient to reach BIA from Shanti Nagar Bus stand on a weekday during the afternoon time.

mandayamr's picture

Trip to BIAL on 1 Jun - updated with timings along the way

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As requested, Have how put in the timings at various locations along with way on the pictures themselves.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rednivaram/sets/72157605375399073/detail/

Is 2 hours sufficient on a weekday to get to BIAL from Shanthi Nagar bus stand?  - Not sure. 

It took us 1 hour and 2 minutes on a Sunday afternoon.  Keeping double the time seems to be a safe option.

 

sanchitnis's picture

BIAL bus durations; need sample data

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The question of when should I start to catch the flight at HH:MM is a standard question that needs scientific answer based on data. I am ready to do the statistical analysis provide I get the sampled data. Can anyone who has connection with BMTC help?

Such statistical analysis will also help find the root causes of delays so that overall reliability can be improved. This will also help BMTC to find out no. of buses needed to support certail level of service such as reaching in 2 hours with 99.999% certainty.

WHile traffic is main cause, we still need to analysis the points at which traffic problem hits most.

Sanjay Chitnis

 
kmohan's picture

bad experience with AIRLIFT

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This is a most unreliable service. I booked a cab and was supposed to be picked up at 3.14 a.m. for a 5.45 a.m. flight. Cab never came. I had to find some other transport after waiting till 3.45 a.m. They had told me that the cab and driver details would be SMSed to me an hour before the pickup time. The SMS came at 12.45 p.m.! I am still trying to figure out how to get the money back. They have not even acknowledged my email for refund after four days.
Vasanth's picture

BMTC Volvo Service is far better than airlift

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Simply people have a bad notion of BMTC. They seem to be providing better service than the much hyped private service providers.
ranarula's picture

BMTC's Vaju Vjara service is really good

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I had a chance to experience the Vavu Vajra service of BMTC when I went in to drop in my wife to the BIA on Jun 11. I took up the BIAS 7 bus from Shanti Nagar bus stand after parking my car on the first level parking. It took me just 3.5 hrs to go and return(with 1 hr stay at the airport) by Vayu Vajra during the afternoon time.

We started from Shanthi Nagar bus stand at 1.32pm (the scheduled time was 1.30). I was very impressed with the timing & reached BIA around 3pm and started my return journey around 4pm after seeing off my wife and was back at Shanti Nagar by 5.10pm when I picked my car by paying only Rs 20 parking fees.

Overall I was very impressed with them. I hope this service continues and is extended to more routes especially the Bannerghatta Road.

Total  money spend for the drop : 210(onward tickets for 2 ppl booked at viaworld.in )+ 100 return ticket) + 20 (car parking fees) = 330 equivalent to 1 person drop using airlift and a good experience

malq's picture

BMTC Volvo from BIAL to JP Nagar

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Seems my previous report vanished so here are the salient features . . . by the way, this is a brilliant service, and hope it does much better.

a) Please switch that radio off.

b) Please redesign future buses - pax in the middle and baggage in the back. The vibration over the rear engine is terrible.

c) Please place route maps within the bus.

d) Some of the windows should be 100% clear, for photo-ops.

e) Update the schedule timings at the Airport a swell as way stops.

ranarula's picture

Baggage space in BMTC Volvo's

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I really wonder as to why the luggage has to share the same AC space as the passengers. Why cant the luggage space be provided at the sides as in normal long distance buses and add extra sitting for passengers ?
narayan82's picture

Re: Baggage space in BMTC Volvo's

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Yea! I wonder why the A/C is required for th baggage :) But originally the plan was to have the luggage beside the driver and partition the driver and the luggage with a Glass Compartment. But i think Volvo didnt agree with this layout for some purpose and hence the existing layout. I feel there is too much space for the luggage. 50% of the luggage space can be utilized for more passenger seats. Though all the busses I have seen that are ful, are rarely full in the luggage areas!
Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
Bangalore

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