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BMTC Strike - what have we learnt?

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Bus

Public Transport in Bangalore today means Bus which is solely run by BMTC. During business as usual this looks good but its in crisis situations like todays strike that the deficit of not investing in multiple modes or using modern methodologies of running operations can hurt. There are 2 aspects to mitigate such incidents from happening. 

1 . BMTC needs to look at outsourcing operations & maintenance of these buses to a third party with clear performance parameters & incentives for exceeding performance targets. Such incidents will mean loss for the service provider & he will make efforts to ensure these don't happen. This is not rocket science as other cities around the world like Singapore etc have such outsourced O&M which can easily be adopted. 

2. Multimodal transportation is a dire need to obviate the dependency on a single mode of public transport. Metro, Commuter rail etc would have helped in times like these. Metro is already under implementation & today we see that unless cross city routes are commissioned it will not help during such situations. Praja have proposed commuter rail which can be rolled out faster & costs much less would have helped in times like these. Even having private bus services along with BMTC on select routes should be explored.

Lack of ability to decide & execute these options is costing us dearly, but who is listening?

Comments

murali772's picture

not good enough

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@ IDS-avare'

Public Transport in Bangalore today means Bus which is solely run by BMTC. During business as usual this looks good.

Sorry, my most charitable rating would be "not good enough". We have gone through enough of debates over this, here, as also elsewhere.

You have mentioned out-sourcing. But, for BMTC to do an effective job of it, it has to undergo cultural changes, which is not going to be too easy. Better would be to dismantle its monopoly, and make it compete on a level playing field (it can even be slightly sloping in its favour, to begin with), like AIR-INDIA, BSNL, SBI, Insurance cos, etc have been made to do. If you agree, perhaps you would like to sign this petition.

And, if you do not find the arguments made out in the body of the petition convincing enough, perhaps a reading of this (as also the post just below it) should convince you. If still not convinced, perhaps you should read this.

Muralidhar Rao
idontspam's picture

Context

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Murali avare, Solving "BMTC" problem is seperate from solving "transportation" problem. O&M contracts will solve BMTC problem not transportation problem.

idontspam's picture

Corruption in BMTC

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Here is very good story on the BMTC fiasco. 

 

One of them, who has put in 25 years, said that he was a painful witness to the posts of divisional controllers and depot managers being up for sale, a practice he alleges began four years ago. “Divisional controllers and depot managers openly demand money from lower level staff claiming they have to pay their bosses,” he alleged.

A senior official, who has been watching the Road Transport Corporations going downhill, said that instead of strengthening the administration and industrial relations, the government and RTC managements were pursuing all sort of awards and self-aggrandisement.

murali772's picture

BMTC is more than half the problem

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@ IDS - If you solve the BMTC problem, more than half the transportation problems get automatically solved.

If Commuter rail, Namma Metro, Big-10 services etc have to find their full utilisation (and therewith reduction in congestion of the city roads), good feeder services are essential for the last mile connectivity. And, you and I know that BMTC is in the picture there only to prevent the entry of Namma Metro into the field, forget private players (check this).

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

perpetuating inequities

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If I have understood this tabulation (from ToI) correctly, a fresher driver gets total monthly emoluments of Rs 20,180/- (Basic - Rs 6,230/-, DA - Rs 12,000/-, HRA - Rs 1,200/-, incentives - Rs 750/-), apart from the annual bonus, etc. For the CTC (cost to company), you need to add gratuity, PF, ESI contributions, etc, making for a total easily in the range of Rs 25,000/- (I don't think a fresher blue-collar worker, in say L&T, would be drawing anywhere close to that). Besides, the tabulation lists comparative driver's salary figures (basic salary at the end of first year, I presume) for Karnataka @ Rs 11,000/-, Bangalore @ Rs 13,764/-, AP @ Rs 10,784/-, Maharashtra @ Rs 8,725/-, and TN @ Rs 11,333/-. So, Karnataka drivers are getting the highest emoluments. And, these basic salaries increase to 16 - 18K by 2nd yr, and to 35 - 40 K by the 15th yr.

These levels of salaries cannot be said to bad by any reckoning, and therefore, when the BMTC spokesperson says "The wages paid by KSRTC are the highest in the region. Despite drought conditions in the state, BMTC employees have been given a 23% hike, but want 30%. The hike will mean a Rs 2,200 crore financial burden on the corporation over the next four years" (for the full report, click here), one would have thought it stood to reason.

However, the same report also says - For a man who's been driving a public bus for 11 years, the state transport corporation management still gives him Rs 4,671, and dismisses his pleas to change his designation from trainee driver to driver. In the case of a BMTC driver who injured his eyes on the job, officials took him to hospital after six hours; by which time he had lost his eyesight. After this, the driver was denied four months' salary. "Over 33,000 men are working as trainee drivers and conductors but are made to work as regular drivers and conductors. This means one-third of the employees' jobs are not confirmed. Their salary is Rs 4,000 and the hike is of little use," said Anantha Subba Rao, president of the KSTC Staff and Workers' Federation.

So, a driver can be working for 11 years (and, even more, I guess) at a salary of Rs 4,671/-, ie one-fifth of what he will get when he is confirmed, if he is confirmed at all, and all for the same work (wait a minute - he will have to work over-time, for which he won't even be paid, whereas his confirmed counterpart, gets double the wages for over-time) And, there are over 33,000 people working that way, ie over one-third the total labour force. So, the problem essentially lies in this totally inequitous scenario.

The question then arises as to why anyone would want to continue working this way for BMTC/ KSRTC, for decades together, when he can get a job with the private operators (including taxi, auto, etc) at easily double the earnings? The answer to that is also fairly simple - quite the same as why a youth will take up a job as a NRK (Night Rat Killer) in Mumbai (check here). This is because, once he somehow manages to get confirmed, besides getting close to five times the wages as a trainee, plus perks like bonus, etc, within a couple of years, he will get the opportunity to join the labour aristocracy mafia, which decides who amongst the trainees should be confirmed and what rate. This is apart from the various other kinds of racketeering that the mafia gets involved in, of course in cahoots with the management mafia, and in turn the politician mafia at the highest level. The union leaders invariably head the labour aristocracy mafia, and that's why they will not question the open exploitation of the trainees.  

Very clearly, the government through its continued role as a service provider (and, as a producer, though that has reduced considerably now), is causing to perpetuate all kinds of artificialities and inequities, and it is high time the people demanded that it left the job to the proper 'public' sector, wrongly termed 'private sector'. Do join in the demnand for that here.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

answer staring in the face

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The strike received a total response in all major districts including Mysore, Hassan, Chikmagalur, Mandya, Gulbarga, Bijapur and other places. On the other hand, the strike had little impact in Mangalore and Hubli, thanks to strong network of private bus service here.

For the full report in the ToI, click here.

Isn't the answer staring you in the face? What is anybody waiting for?

Muralidhar Rao
abidpqa's picture

Equation

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I see it is as quite positive. I dont remember any strike BMTC in the last 10 years and still BMTC could not satisfy the commuters even with full freedom for managers.  This evens the balance of power. Workers should have a say in the working of any company. Now  workers have to justify their demands and the management have to justify their orders and managemnt has to listen to commuters.  Many complaints we had highlighted in Praja and others could be solved.  Hopefully, the practice most buses running only from 9 to 5 shift which obviously benefitted the staff, cancelling buses in evening peak hours and run only run Volvo at that time, etc. will be stopped

blrpraj's picture

nothing has been learnt

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In my opinion nothing has been learnt; but, can it be fixed? Definitely yes with the application of technology.

 

IDS & Murali, i was noticing an interesting difference of opinion between you folks on this thread. I feel that the BMTC issue is just subset of the problem and the transportation infrastructure as a whole is actually the bigger problem that needs to be fixed first. The best analogy that i can give you to convince you is think of your computer; if the Operating System (the whole transportation infrastructure and network) is screwed up and badly designed then it cannot scale and will choke. Only if the OS is well thought out and designed to be rock solid can the software services like browsers, office applications etc. (buses in our case) run properly.

The reason i am highlighting this point (in case you bring to my attention that the topic is about BMTC strike and say that i am talking about an entirely different topic) is that the strike scenario could have been eliminated if multiple companies were operating on this infrastructure. Hell, if all companies decided to go on strike then there is the capability to remove the driver from the picture and have automatic overrides where the buses are operated on automatic guided busways. I have penned my thoughts on a different thread that is active on praja -

http://praja.in/en/~bangalore/blog/murali772/2009/04/24/petition-cm-end-bmtcksrtc-monopoly#comment-32071

 

Thoughts?

idontspam's picture

Not different

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I dont have a difference of opinion on breaking BMTC monopoly. I dint want to draw same conclusions in every comment because transportation is not just BMTC. Train options ike commuter rail have been ignored. 

If BMTC really cared aout their commuters why didnt they rent private transport buses during the strike & press them into service? Why do they waste public buses on IT parks charter services, like Sanjay has pointed out elsewhere, instead of asking them to approach private operators instead?

Murali makes a good point about failure of BMTC for feeder even when the train modes are operational. If the monopoly was broken maybe BMRC would run their own shuttle as Sivasailam has many times expressed interest. Even in Singapore both SBS transit & SMRT run buses.

Take steps but dont make BMTC the only mass transport means. First step need not be complete decontrol but definitely letting selectively commuter rail authority, BMRCL & certain IT park routes to run common bus using private operator rolling stock with a certain distinctive livery.

The only difference of opinion is I place lower trust in the current crop of business houses because of their questionable ethics. 

Naveen's picture

Some questions

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Blrprj,

The point you make is quite apt:  for street-based PT services (i.e. buses) to perform in the best possible manner, a lot of fixes are needed. Road widths are insufficient in internal areas; most flyovers have no provision for bus bypasses to align stops at commuter-preferred intersections; poor co-ordination amongst various govt agencies continues to produce infrastructure additions that are not tuned to mass movements, but encourages private motorized trips, etc.

IDS,

failure of BMTC for feeder even when the train modes are operational

This was discussed previously & I am of the opinion that such services cannot be run viably yet due to limited reach of Metro (6.7km with only about 25000 users). I think we should wait till the entire ph-1 is operational & take a call then.

maybe BMRC would run their own shuttle as Sivasailam has many times expressed interest

Can you substantiate this -- since I have heard him categorically stating many times that BMRC would not get involved with feeder services. If they do, then well, that might be the best option since they have substantial motivation to make it a success by way of increased ridership of Metro.

blrpraj's picture

my response to IDS

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Take steps but dont make BMTC the only mass transport means.

IDS,

 

Likewise, CRS & Metro will also not be the only mass transportation means. It has to be a cohesive mesh of road based PT and rail based PT. In the new model BMTC is just a a service provider among the many possible road based PT that can be offered. Please keep in mind that private operators too are not the magic bullet; i have lived in udupi for a few years and am no stranger to private bus operator union strikes and rampant rash driving so we won't be solving the problems just by adding private operators as an alternative to BMTC without fixing the underlying issues; othwewise we will see out of control private buses in the city streets. Bottom line is a steering committee needs to take a look at this from a big picture perspective as a whole and come up with a solution (similar to how we solve a complex engineering problem).

Also, those steering committe folks need to stay well ahead of the curve; and what i mean by that is for example, here is a new technology that is going to pretty much become standard in the developed world in the not too distant future - http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/18/tech/innovation/ieee-2040-cars/index.html?hpt=hp_bn5. A valid argument can be made that this technology is needed in India moreso than any other country since we can hugely improve the road use efficiency and incorporate this into buses moving on segregated busways PLUS improve road safety as we have one of the worst accident rates AND we can also eliminate the problem of strikes like i mentioned earlier since machines don't strike short of irate workers burning down the buses themselves..if this technology is used properly it does not matter whether BMTC is running the buses or some other third party. Knowing our country we will as usual be fast asleep and be in perpetual catch up mode like we have been for the past 50 or 60 odd years; traffic was bad enough in the 80s in Chennai and Bangalore to have warranted a solution and the best solution that the planners have come up with is a hodge podge of ill planned flyovers; badly planned concrete boxes that they call as underpasses and adhoc street widening.

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