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What will make Bus Day a better success?

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BusPublic Transport

We all are looking for answer to one question. How can BMTC make the Bus Day a better success? The success being large numbers taking the bus on Bus day? Praja survey and poll has already given the answers to this question. One important factor that is eluding the Bus Day is, TRUST from citizens of Namma Bengaluru. Majority of us still don't trust that BMTC is a reliable and viable choice for daily commute.

The question is how can BMTC help create that TRUST? Let me not tread the philosophical, motherhood debate path. Let me put forward the list of things by an example that BMTC should do to earn that TRUST.

I will give you my experience of Bus Day that I observed for my commute in US on Feb 4th. That day, I took the Bus to my office and returned by Bus. Here is that experience.

I live in Rockville city of Maryland, USA. It is a sub-urb of Washington DC. Capital of USA. My office is in Clarksburg, MD which is about 21 Kms (14 Miles). My travel in both directions in both time morning and evening is against the traffic. Basically no traffic jams or traffic pile ups. I use a car and takes about 10-15 minute to reach my office.

Prior to Feb 4, probably on Feb 1 or 2, started looking for bus information and schedule. Luckily, both my home and office are in Montgomery county and it runs a PT buses by name RideON. This in turn integrated is with Washington Metro Trains. This provides seamless transfers. One of my colleague told me that there is a bus service which runs right next to our office.

Planning my Feb 4th Commute - Went to the RideOn website and started looking for bus service that connects my office, I started backwards from my Office. I didn't had any direct route. So I fall back on looking for connecting routes.I found that Route # 75 runs near my office and it goes upto Germantown Transit Center. From there there, I have to take 2 more buses to reach my home. From Germantown Tarnsit Center, I have to go to Shady Grove Metro Station and change over to another bus that would take me to the bus near my house. Searching hard I found that I can take a non-stop service between Germantown TC and SG Metro Station. Basically I got the idea that it would take 3 buses to reach my office and same for return. I printed the schedules directly from the RideON website

RideOn and Metro now has introduced a smart fare system using the SmartCard technology. Because carrying change is little out of place in US. Found that if I use Smartcard it will cost me only $1.25 for travel within 2 hours. You can take unlimited buses within these 2 hours and you will be charged only $1.25. Luckily I had the Smartcard but it needed to be recharged. The RideOn website provided all the information on buying and recharging the Smart Cards. It even had departmental stores selling and recharging the smart cards. Now I had all the information to take the bus on Feb 4th. On the night of Feb 3rd went to the nearest departmental store and got my Smartcard recharged with $25.

Actual Travel: On Feb 4th, started from home early @7 AM. Around 7:15 I got a bus to SG Metro station. I got into the bus and just needed to swipe the Smart card near the driver. In 5 minutes I was at SG Metro station. There was a bus route #100 waiting for destination to Germantown transit center. It started at 7:25 and reached GTC by 7:40. Changed over to Route 75 and it started at 7:45 and was at the Office stop @ 8 AM. Totally it took about 45 minutes to reach my office. All the buses were at the exact time as was listed in the schedule printouts.

In the evening, left office early and catched a Bus # 75 @ 4:15. Then took a connecting bus from GTC to SG Metro and then #64 to my home. Return journey took me little longer about 1hour 10 minutes.

Overall the experience was good and now I am motivated to take the bus regularly once the weather becomes little warmer. The lesson I learned from my experience is, if PT Service provider can provide the following:

  1. Most up to date Information on Routes - Website/Call Centers
  2. Little help to plan the trip (basically change over info) - Route Planner
  3. Easy Ticket payment or single ticket - Smart Card/ Pass
  4. Smart/Electronic form of payments for the fare - Authorized agents/ ATMs
  5. Schedules running at noted times - Reliable Service operations

 Believe me, people will flock to PT system leaving their private vehicles.

I have no doubt in my mind that, these things can not be provided by BMTC also. BMTC can easily provide this type of service and can do much better.

However, BMTC mgmt will have to see things from citizen's perspective and will need to have the resolve to make BMTC a true Public Transport service provider.

Comments

vvr's picture

Hi Syed,Looks like your

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.Hi Syed,

Looks like your PT commute was considerably longer than your personal transportation option but all told it does not appear to have been a bad experience in other respects -- personal comfort etc.

My experience on Feb 4  was not as good. I wanted to travel from Clarence High School in Richards Town (near Frazer Town) to Cambridge Layout in Ulsoor. I figured I would look for a bus to Trinity Circle being the nearest busy junction. The BMTC site route search function seemed frozen so I started snooping around at Praja when I came upon this item:

 http://praja.in/en/projects/2874/announcement/bus-day-route-map

and a reference to BMTC services and Timing V2.xls. Lo and behold, I saw  the magic words Clarence, School, Trinity, Circle against Big 10 Route G11. I thought my cup runneth over! I was so overjoyed that I did not look at the list of stops for G11 critically. Bright and early the next morning I was at the Clarence School stop. The bus arrived 10 minutes later and I proudly announced my destination (Trinity) to the conductor only to find out that the bus goes nowhere near Trinity. Obviously, there was a typo and Trinity did not belong in that list of G11 stops! It was entirely my fault that I had not checked the route properly.

I figured that I would get off at Indian Express, and there catch a bus that headed towards Trinity. It turned out that this specific bus stopped right in the middle of Queens Road and the passengers got off and crossed 3 lanes of heavy traffic to get to the east side of the road. I just followed them to the bus stop at IE where I was able to get another bus to Ulsoor.I ended up taking an hour and half instead of the usual 15-20 minute car ride and when I arrived at the office I was like a wet noodle.

It would be tough to argue that PT is a viable option when it takes 4X the time and subjects you to physical discomfort.You have to be a extremely committed to PT and believe whole-heartedly  that it benefits the communities you live in and generally leave a smaller footprint on this earth. This requires a certain leap of faith.  The leap that you have to make will be less if PT places a lower burden on you in terms of time, money, physical comfort and personal safety.

Now this is just my situation -- the commute from my home to my current office by BMTC is rather convoluted. But for many others there is a point to point connection on a comfortable Vajra. But I suspect that a plurality of commuters in Bangalore face a similar predicament to mine. There is a lot BMTC can do to study traffic patterns in a scientific manner and design optimum routes and interchanges -- something along the lines of what Srivathsa was proposing at one time. For another matter, the overall traffic (not a BMTC problem alone) and driving protocols(definitely a BMTC problem) have to improve to make the overall experience more safe.

The good news for me personally is that I am looking for new office space. I may look for a place to which I can travel in style on Vajra! The happy ending to the story is that I now keep looking for opportunities to travel by bus when I go out. The BMTC bus route finder seems pretty useful.

May be this where the bus days have a role to play. Initially they provide just the symbolism. But as more people experiment with PT as I did, there will be more comverts. Ultimately, as you said somewhere else, every day should become a bus day.

 

idontspam's picture

What will make Bus Day a

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What will make Bus Day a better success?

If buses stopped in the stops right next to the kerb. If this habit was inclucated in both drivers and commuters by putting bus stop stewards till such time the good habits rubbed off (maybe one generation long) on all. Simple basics will go a long way in making it comfortable and safe for users.

On the well made bus bays of Hosur road not SINGLE bus stops IN the bus bay. I speak after observing over 2 weeks at different times of the day, both peak and non peak. Not a soul to monitor, instruct, guide etc. What a waste. 

idontspam's picture

Analyze this

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It would be tough to argue that PT is a viable option when it takes 4X the time and subjects you to physical discomfort

Very good point. Consider this

IF

Your 20 min car ride cost you a lot in terms of parking & congestion charging

AND

The bus service had proper timetable, route planner accessible online, was reliable (arrives on time), had connections without having to runnaround, stopped in bus stops safely and got you to your destination with just 2 changes maximum

Wouldnt that change things? The second part is in BMTC control.

vvr's picture

Are BIAS routes available for intermediate travel ?

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For example, can I use BIAS4 for travel between Ulsoor Lake and CMH hospital? My understanding is that you cannot but if someone knows for sure, please let me know.

I am sorry that this is tangential to Syed's questions but it might be a small part of the larger solution.

 

vvr's picture

"Consider this IF Your 20 min

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"Consider this

IF

Your 20 min car ride cost you a lot in terms of parking & congestion charging

AND

The bus service had proper timetable, route planner accessible online, was reliable (arrives on time), had connections without having to runnaround, stopped in bus stops safely and got you to your destination with just 2 changes maximum

Wouldnt that change things? The second part is in BMTC control"

IDS,

This is precisely the central question that each of us has to answer. We are constantly making choices (one printer vs another, one car vs.another, shopping at Namdharis vs at the street cart) in our lives. Subconsciously, we are doing what market researchers call conjoint analysis -- comparing one set of benefits and associated cost (this is not just in rupee terms) with another.

Given today's situation, the choice for me is very clear, it is the first of the two alternatives that you mention. If I throw in the environmental impact and the aggravation factor of the first alternative, the value difference is little less. If the scenario you describe for alternative 2 were to be realized, the balance would tilt in favor of alternative 2 every time, if I am traveling alone. If BMTC routes of my interest are run entirely by Vajras it will be a no-brainer (it is not the airconditioning but the sealed windows of the Vajras that appeal to me -- I am asthmatic) . I think BMTC is definitely making huge progress on the quality of their buses, it is the supporting infrastructure that needs a major upgrade.

 

silkboard's picture

You can use BIAS buses south of Hebbal

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Yes VVR, you can use BIAS buses for your commute. Vinod has tried this, so we have clear supporting evidence.

I think BMTC has made press releases to make this clear, but may not have appeared prominently in papers.

s_yajaman's picture

We don't pay for externalities

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 VVR,

Expecting people to think of the greater common good, etc will simply not work.  Everyone tries to maximize his or her benefit/cost ratio.  Therefore if someone is willing to ride a bike risking life and limb and the elements he thinks it is worth it.  Externalities have to be priced in.

Let us say I take a bike from my house to ITPL (~30 km) it will take me say 1 hr 15 minutes and will cost me Rs30+wear and tear and all that -  say Rs.40.  

If I have to catch a bus I can do three things.

a. Take an auto to Jayanagar 5th block (Rs.30) + Vajra Rs.30 = Rs.60 + 1 hr 30 minutes.  

Incremental cost = Rs.20 + 15min +waiting in the sun.  Benefit is airconditioned ride for the most part + can do some work on the bus if I get sitting.  Equal chance that I have to stand a good part of the way.

b. Take a bus to Jayanagar 5th block (Rs 5) + Vajra Rs.30 = Rs.35 + 1hr 45 minutes.

c. Take my bike and park it near the bus stop (risk) and then take a bus.  Benefit is no waiting, no haggling.  Cost is between bus and auto.  

What someone would choose would depend on things like how they trade off extra time in bus vs. the stress of riding a bike or the fact that they can do something in the bus like reading or catching up on e-mail, etc.

If half decent parking places were made available, I think many more would pick (c) - the hybrid option.  

I was just having a chat with some of my old friends in Singapore.  One said he cannot give up driving till the PT there improved to the standard of London or HK.  Most Bangaloreans would give an arm and a leg to get Singapore's PT.

There will always be a bunch of people that will not take PT however good it is.  One should stop trying to switch them.  Instead charge them more for their personal transport and generate money to provide better PT.

Sorry for rambling all over the place

Srivathsa

 

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

silkboard's picture

So talking Bus Day specifically ...

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Since Bus Day isn't a fix-all one-shot, but a publicity cum experiment day, should we request BMTC to provide this hybrid option for few bus stands on select corridors?

How to pick these bus stands where the results of two wheeler / car parking space can be seen? Any Bus stand where car parking can be setup just for Bus Day?

For my area, I could pick Kundalahalli gate, or the point where Railway bridge starts (next to those apartments). There are some large empty plots near by. If BMTC could request them to allow cars and bikes to park there for just one day, that may work - makes it super easy, drive till there, walk to Bus stand.

Vasanth's picture

Kanteerava Stadium is a good location

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 Kanteerava  stadium near corporation circle is a good location people can board almost all the buses 365 (Bannerghatta), 356 (EC) and 335E ITPL buses.

If we get Vajras started from Jayanagar 4th block to EC,ITPL & Koramangala, which has got new bus stand with parking facility with reduced parking fees for those who take Vajras will also be helpful.

kbsyed61's picture

Seems BMTC doesn't like our experiences!

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I had submitted mine and VVRs experiences to BMTC as part of the Bus Day feedback. This I have been doing regularly to keep BMTC engagement alive and fruitful.

But a recent response from BMTC w.r.t Bus Day has shocked me and I am still in utter disbelief. The response is very bad in taste and shows anger, arrogance and disregard for the public opinion. That too getting from a top guy at BMTC is matter of concern.

Frankly speaking, mine and VVRs experiences are not any different than any other citizen who travels daily in BMTC buses. These are no different than BD experiences of SB, Sri, Vinod and many other's who wholeheartedly took the Bus on Bus Day.

I am trying to get to the bottom of this to understand the reason for such unfriendly response.

pathykv's picture

MARCH 4th Bus Day

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Dear Mr. Syed,

I was out of B'lore during 1st fortnight. The Iransport Minister had asked all Govt. employyees to take the bus on 4th March. BMTC would have got their feed back. Was it any different from ours?

K.V.Pathy

kbsyed61's picture

VVR, yours is the testimony to lopsided connectivity!

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VVR,
 Your bus day experience is the real story of lopsided connectivity that exist in B'lore today. As you had written earlier also, this is a classic example of neglect and oversight for North and East regions of the B'lore. Even though this is the region where majority depends upon PT for their commute.

I keep hearing about transport planning from BMTC, but yet to get some concrete details. Have scheduled some phone calls this weekend to get some insight into it.

Syed

Vasanth's picture

No responses from GrahakBMTCShakti too

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I used to regularly write to ctmobmtc or Grahak BMTC Shakti, and used to get a reply mail in one day. Nowadays, no response whatsoever. Bus days and feedback efforts will just go into water.

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