Summary: Recently I was thinking of possible reasons and solutions of the problem of traffic. I did a small survey and collected opinion from the people from various ages. I also observed working of Volvo service in bangalore. In all, what I concluded is that, there is mismatch in the offerings we have from public transport and expectation of passengers of certain class. Unless the mismatch is addressed the problem will not be solved.
The approach to solution is simple, observe the passengers then look at the service provider. After looking at them independently try to see why they are not good match today.
Recently I have done a survey on public transport to see
- What people think about current traffic situation?
- What is their opinion about public transport?
- What are the problems they see with public transport?
- What are the potential solutions they seek?
Let me start with analyzing responses on the survey briefly. ( can see Survey Questions here. ) Highlighting points are
- According to most of them current traffic situation is bad and lot more people think that its heading to worse. (Obvious)
- 64% people strongly agree that "Cars take more space on the road".
- 55% people strongly agree if cars are reduced it will improve traffic situation.
- 81% people think that PTS( Public Transport Service) can solve traffic problem.
- Almost 60% feel waiting for the bus is big hinderance to PTS.
- Almost 75% are ok with Volvo service comfort level.
- Almost 50% feel they can not follow schedule if they use PTS.
- Half of the people feel PTS is not fast enough.
- More than 50% are ok or have no issues with walking for the bus stop.
- 40% feel point to point (p2p) connectivity is big concern for them.
- 70% feel PTS is not reliable with respect of time.
The profile of people who gave survey is 30% use either PTS or office bus, 43% use it occasionally, 18% has never used PTS.
The Public Transport
On the other hand I have also observed how volvo ply from ITPL office for evening time. I recorded the time at which buses were starting and the pattern they were running. Also I traveled from ITPL to majestic and then back from Majestic to ITPL in evening time. Main findings from this exercise are
- There is no schedule.
- There is no pattern.
- Frequency is not applicable to volvo.
- There is lot of wastage.
So BMTC is bad system, no I do not think so. Because I feel the BMTC staff especially drivers and conductors are extremely helpful ( at least on volvo) and they face the traffic 8 hrs when we feel frustrated in 40 mins of traffic. Few other points which we have to appreciate
- 5000 + buses running relentlessly on the service of people.
- Serving lakhs of people everyday.
- It is no less than a wonder that BMTC is making profits.
- Managing the big network with out sophisticated system.
Where Expectation and Services not gel?
So an interesting point which comes out from my findings is
" People want to use PTS and they feel positive about it. BMTC is working hard to service the people. "
So the big question is where it is going wrong, why there are so many people using cars?
The answer lies on another question why volvo is not able to generate profit for BMTC?
Let us consider BMTC as an organization. BMTC is an old corporation serving to needs of the people for past several years. When BMTC started Bangalore was yet to realize its IT potential and hence most of the people were looking for economical and decent modes of transportation. Most of people had no other means and hence they had to rely on BMTC and it is true today as well. Keeping it economical is very important as most of its customers are still belong to a class where economy takes first priority. And hence today as well they make their decisions and strategy keeping their common customer.
But in last few year, as the per capita income of bangalore increased tremendously there are lot of people having more option other then PTS ( Mainly car and Bikes) . Past few years BMTC kept on working in same way satisfying its common customer but could not cater to this new segment which became very important and influential to todays traffic. And hence this new passenger class is totally ignored or deprived of their expectation. This new customers are different in all reaspects habbits, tolerance, financially etc.
I assume here that all of us agree, unless PTS is able to cater/attract this new class, traffic in the city is going to be a mess. So let us try to analyse profile of this potential customer
- Used to or prefers flexible Timing.
- Zero patience.
- Decently rich.
- Cares about comfort and ready to pay for it.
- Likes personal space.
- Tries to be cautious towards environment
- Prefers clean environment.
- Work hard party harder tendency.
- Cares for time. ( Earning 2k per Day or Rs 4 per Min)
- Health cautious
- Prefers fast
I feel most of the point will describe all of us somewhere. There can be more point, but lets see if we can find some solution based on above profile. A very prominent point we can see in all of the people today is they are busy. They want to do as much as they can most of the time, so time becomes extremely important for them.
So more relevant or important point for BMTC is
- Money vs Time --> With in acceptable range Time Wins.
- Health vs Time --> Within acceptable range Health wins
By not driving on the road I can keep myself healthy. Stress is part of job for most of us and and roads contribute to make it worst. PTS helps reduce driving stress. A big plus point for PTS. So we definitely strong positive point with us which we should leverage while promoting PTS. Now move to time part of PTS. A person has to
- Walk to bus stop.
- Waiting for the Bus.
- Travelling time
- Walk to final destination
The time spent on the above activities usually adds more than 30% time taken by other means like car. So it becomes a strong negative factor for PTS. So it is important to reduce or divert in such way that it works as positive factor for us.
Explore following suggestions
- Walking to Bus stop and waiting time for bus can be clubbed in such way that overall time spent is less.
- Travelling time to be utilized in something else. ( Reading, Surfing, Chatting, nap etc)
Let us look at potential approach to do the same
- Time to walk to bus stop can not be reduced. But, for example, if I know bus starts at 9 AM exactly , I can make my waiting time to zero. Or in other words, if PTS starts to give exact time to start, it will help people to reduce waiting time.
- Travelling time can potentially be used in lot of personal activities like reading, calling and sleeping. We need to have comfortable and capacity where people get space to sit and perform these activities.
Considering above points what is the immediate and easy starting point for BMTC to try
- Have schedule. For example from ITPL specify the 500P bus times exactly. e.g. 500p will leave at 6:10, 6:20, 6:30. And follow it from at least 3 months to see results.
- Try to observe the occupancy at daily level and adjust the capacity accordingly.
If the point 1 is implemented BMTC will see 30% increase in their revenue of volvo service due to following reasons
- More passengers will use volvo as they do not have to wait.
- The gap between the 2 consecutive buses will be sufficient to have enough people at stops.
- Waiting time reduction will reduce crowd at the bus stops making traffic faster at various junctions like Marthahalli.
For the next level, there is tremendous potential of IT solutions to help people reduce time required for PTS. IT solution can
- Make Bus/route information easily available.
- Make visibility of current situation possibility. ( Where the bus is and possible how much occupied it is)
- Make IT enabled environment in Buses with WIFi and charger points. Of course at premium price.
- Making it IT enabled can make BMTC better as they can be more responsive to customer need. They can gather data, analyse data much more easily and infer the public needs better.
The most important point about IT solutions is they are very cheap compared to other alternatives like Metro and flyovers.
In all, there is a dire need to analyse the passengers needs from the new class of bangalore and address them separately as it is totally different customer profile. A basic analysis from my observation and suggested solution has a potential to bring volvo services to profitability and more importantly to serve the purpose of attracting car users. I strongly urge BMTC to implement basic suggestions in article which requires no major equipment but slight change in their working. After these changes BMTC can try to address other needs of this new class and hence becoming true transporter of all bangaloreans.