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Yi did not fail - it was dumped

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Public Transport

@ Naveen (response to this comment)

Yi did not fail - it was dumped. A more charitable reason is that similar to the matter of their updating of the web-site, the people concerned were lax about going through the tendering process. But, the more plausible reason is that the service provider (for whom I was front-ending the discussions with BMTC) did not approach the "concerned people" in the "right way". And, these concerned people were very effective in side-lining it even with its having the MD's backing, possibly because the MD himself was part of some other racket involving the minister.

And, these concerned people were not comfortable dealing with me, knowing me to be a loud-mouth. When I realised this, I had a frank talk with the MD of the service provider company ( a IIT, Kanpur; 7 years in Infosys background person) to allow me to back out, and to find a wheeler-dealer to handle the BMTC business. He did that, and there was immediate response from the concerned people. But, in the meanwhile, a few other things fell out of place for both the wheeler-dealer and BMTC, and Yi was just dumped unceremoniously.

The calls were certainly not free. And, that was never the problem.

For the six-month trial period, BMTC placed an order on us for a total of Rs 85K, plus taxes, to keep within the Rs 1 lakh per annum limit for non-tendered orders. Even though this did not meet even a fraction of the direct costs involved, we took it up in the expectation of more sustainable levels of compensation under the regular business, once BMTC saw the improvements in ridership. Apart from this were the many other spin-offs that were possible. But, even though there was a measurable improvement in ridership, the "other considerations" were more important for the concerned people, and that was it.

The merry loot goes on even today, possibly on an even bigger scale. What else do you think the grand TTMC contracts are all about? To serve the commuter? Forget it! Of course, the recession may have come as dampener, though.

I have dealt with enough government agencies to see through all these games. Whereas when Socialism ruled the country, we had to learn to live with it all, I can't understand the need to tolerate such nonsense today. There's no option - it has to be an all out war!

Muralidhar Rao

Comments

bdonline's picture

Hi Murali, Thanks for the

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Hi Murali,

Thanks for the insightful post. The sequence of events that led to YI's demise is quite unfortunate. I'm a recent member so please excuse my ignorance while I ask the following questions:

1. Who maintains GPS hardware that's installed in BMTC buses? Is this hardware still operational, now since YI has been dumped?

2. How optimistic are you about newer parties trying to revive YI or a similar service albeit in a different way?


Thanks,
BD

murali772's picture

GPS devices

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The GPS services were being provided by "MobiApps", and "Arya Omnitalk" then. I don't know the position today.

The VOLVO buses were fitted by MobiApps, and they fed us the signals on the direction of BMTC for our providing the Yi service.

Reviving the service will require cracking the nexus within BMTC. And, surely, it is not just for the Yi service alone.

As compared to that, if TATA's/ TVS were operating the bus service, they, along with the city, would perhaps have nominated me for the green nobel :))).

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
Rithesh's picture

GPS tracking on its way back

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@bdonline

Answers to your question

1. GPS devices are still active. Around 40 Volvo buses are fitted with GPS devices (all Vayu Vajra Volvos). A few non volvo buses are also fitted with GPS devices (especially the ones hired on contract basis). I am not sure what is their current purpose but my guess is they use that for tracking. I was recently told that in a phased manner all Volvo buses initially will be fitted with GPS devices (however this was not an official communication).

2. BMTC is working with a search engine provider to digitize all their routes, so that it is available to the general public. At a latter stage this thing could be used for providing YI type services.

bdonline's picture

@Murali & Rithesh Thanks,

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@Murali & Rithesh

Thanks, that was quite informative.


murali772's picture

Volvo through K'mangala

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@ Naveen

I am not making any more demands of BMTC. I am demanding of the government to bring in proper competition, which I am more and more convinced is the only way out.

Incidentally, there used to be a V340N operating between KBS and HSR layout, which used to pass through Koramangala. The route details can be accessed at http://www.clinf.com/yi/YI_BMTC/Index.html.   Now, this was another of those routes with just some four schedules per day, operated with just two buses, even which could be diverted to 'more profitable' routes if any of the buses on those routes broke down. There was never any predictability about it, and given the circumstances, the "Yelli Iddira?" service was extremely helpful.

The following letter which appeared in TOI in mid-Sept, '07, perhaps describes the commuter's plight fairly graphically.

I refer to the news item captioned "A golden chance to travel in style" published in your columns on the 8th instant.

With the increasing congestion on the city roads, the daily commute to and from college, on my scooter, was becoming a regular nightmare. That was when I noticed a VOLVO bus (route no 340N) running along almost the entire stretch of my route. Try as I might, going through the BMTC web-site and even a visit to their main office in Kempegowda bus station, all I could get was some sketchy and non-dependable information. Later, a friend told me about the 'Elli Iddeera' service for tracking the buses through SMS. The information provided on the web-site, apparently set up and maintained by a private agency, was precise as well as most comprehensive, and, within no time, I mastered the art. Commuting thereafter became a pleasure.

Sadly, however, this was short-lived, with the service becoming totally erratic over the past few months. A mail posted on the web-site elicited a response from the service provider that the BMTC was just not co-operating. And, I am now back to my tortuous scooter rides.

So, what is the BMTC now talking about, when they cannot in the first place bother to sustain some of their user-friendly services? One wonders if they are actually interested in improving services to the commuters, or just coming up with gimmickry's periodically to just remain in the news.


There are more such letters from commuters received as feedbacks on the Yi site. I shall pull some of them out from my archives and post here.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

typical Yi feedback

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Typical of the exchange I, on behalf of the Yi team, had with a commuter through the 'feedback' arrangement (almost exactly two years back). And, this was the service that BMTC dumped most unceremoniously.

Dear Muralidhar

Nice to see your mail. I like your approach in getting to know realities.

Certainly without this SMS services, the situation could have remained bad. I am extremely happy with this service as it saves lot of my time.

I have traveled only on 365 route (Bannerghatta Road to BMTC Stand). Recently I have not faced any problem other than that not all the buses have been provided with GPS.

I have not faced faulty information so far.

Overall it is very good. I have spoken with bus conductors about this. They are also happy. They said there is an increase in the number of commuters due to this as people can time catching these buses. May be you can also talk to them whenever you travel on these buses.

As and when I find some useful suggestions to be given, I will
communicate with you.

Best Regards
Ravi


-----Original Message-----
From: yi@clinf.com [mailto:yi@clinf.com]
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2007 11:39 AM
To: Ravi, Vaikuntachar
Subject: Yi

Dear Ravi

It has been just over 2 months since we started the Yi service. Over the period, we have been trying to come to grips with some of the teething problems, and we dare say, today, that the service has stabilised, atleast on some routes, if not all. I was going through the old mails to check out the ground reality with the commuters directly, and hence this mail to you.

A typical complaint we have been receiving is about faulty information. This happens because the BMTC authorities divert the vehicles on to other routes for operational reasons, but without informing us. Whereas this may have been happening very frequently earlier, I expect it has
come down now. I would be grateful for your feedback on this matter, as well as others.

Attached is a word document with tabulations of the stops on the 10 routes that the VOLVO services are today operating on, as given to us by BMTC. Being a regular commuter on the route, I expect you know it best, and I'll be grateful if you could identify for us more visible
land-marks along the route (like say Brookefields, instead of Kundalahalli or AECS layout, which incidentally are all the same) so that the info given by us becomes more commuter-friendly.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards, Muralidhar Rao
YI Team
http://yi.clinf.com

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Ritesh avare'  The GPS

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Ritesh avare' 

The GPS devices had originally been fitted on the buses for MIS purposes, particularly the hired vehicles. The contractors (MobiApps and Arya Omnitalk) were required to provide the data according to some 22 parameters on a weekly/ monthly basis. It was essentially a post-mortem. If analysed properly, they could have been useful. But, the fact of the matter is that nobody even looked at them. In fact, some of the people who were supposed to analyse them, didn't even know how to access them.

And, how else other than through digital maps do you suppose Yi worked? And, these were available over three years back. So, what is BMTC re-inventing now?

Further, as for feedback from commuters, how better can they be than in the post directly above this one?

Plainly, the racketeers within are only interested in projects where they can make money for themselves and their masters. Where they don't see scope for that, they will scuttle them some way or the other.

What is required first and foremost perhaps is for us to ask the Lok Ayukta to conduct raids on some of the racketeers - I can suggest a few names.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
srkulhalli's picture

Just the tip of the iceberg

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I believe information technology can do wonders to the bus service, including BMTC.  The YI was just a tip of  the iceberg. A combination of smartcards of passengers + GPS can revolutionalize it - things I can think of

1. With smartcard, ticketing becomes quick and automatic - saves time and human resources which could be better deployed. I think there are sufficient low cost options available for smartcard.

2. Ensures no pilferage

3. Enormous amount of data is generated - can do route rationalisation based on this. Thus ensure no overcrowding, nor buses going empty. (say 60% to 90% occupancy!)  This alone will help get more people on to the bus

4. Real time information for passengers.

The return on investment, in pure money terms also should be very good. Question is why is it not being done

Suhas

Suhas

idontspam's picture

Waste of money

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The return on investment, in pure money terms also should be very good. Question is why is it not being done

Because we have people who believe anything beyond providing 4 wheels is waste of money! Their limit is 15lakhs.

Rithesh's picture

Murali Sir - please back it up with proof

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Murali Sir,

The new GPS systems are for Volvo buses - currently only 40 of these are fitted with GPS systems, i guess they want to put that up on all Volvo services.

Regarding your other suggestion - why dont you go ahead, take the names, file cases with LA. Comments here wont solve the problem, if you truely believe there is something wrong - you should go to the LA, atleast i would have done that. Otherwise these will just be rumors.

Rithesh

sanchitnis's picture

service similar to YI

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I do not know which one was first, but this service is being used effectively:

 http://www.nextbus.com/

 
trimurthi's picture

Need to revive this immediately

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Murali Sir,
Please suggest next steps, and I'll try my best to garner people to discuss and volunteer.

If BMTC is already working with a search engine, then great, but let us know about it. They can't just keep "working on it". All projects have deadlines, and this one should make one and stick to it, atleast for the sake of a better planet. There surely are hidden agenda's, lets bring them out in open in every possible way.

The problem is in getting people to accompany - whenever I ask a fellow passenger about his woes, he'll not end his complains but just on his seat. He will hardly move off it to raise his voice. This should change and praja's need to initiate it.

I'm very keen on raising a big protest - maybe when the next time Hasiru Usiru protests, I'll get a placard saying "focus on easy solutions first". I hope we'll get enough people to voice their opinion. Even barging into BMTC office every saturday is fine with me.

There are lot of people who are stuck at excuses of BMTC timing irregularity, and I need this desperately to carry forward my preaching.

(About smarcard, I already have one - "Bangalore Card" which I guess is a oyster card. Pass holders all have it. But no surprises here, I guess BMTC is just sitting on it too)
murali772's picture

approaching the "right" way

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Online travel company ibiboGroup has acquired Bangalore-based startup YourBus, strengthening its offering in the bus travel space.

- - - - YourBus, founded by BITS-Pilani graduates Rajesh Mallipeddi and Satya Padmanabham in 2011, is a GPS-based bus tracking and analytics platform. Like with Uber and Ola in the cab segment, the YourBus application on a smartphone shows you the location of your bus in real time on a map. It also tells you the arrival time at your pickup point. It provides SMS updates, useful particularly for those with feature phones.

Bus operators are able to track their buses and get detailed analytics on punctuality and efficiency of their buses. They can sort this information by route, bus driver and vehicle number and also get estimated time of arrival reports and other weekly/daily location based reports.


- - - - "We believe we can potentially take live bus tracking to every bus in India and make it a de-facto feature to all bus passengers and operators. We will be able to leverage the bigger support/network of redBus to achieve this.

For the full report in the ToI, click here.

Now, much of this was provided by "Yelli Iddira", as far back as in 2007, but of course through SMS (I chanced to come upon this report too, in the ToI, dating back to those times). As different from YourBus, we teamed up with BMTC, in full appreciation of the fact that the service was far more useful for the city commuter. But, that turned out to be our mistake too, since the game there called for a "different" approach altogether.

The following are the excerpts from a report, again in the ToI (for the full text, click here), that was published following the recent incident of a girl being thrown out of the bus by a recalcitrant driver:

BMTC has no proper facility to track its buses. Only 25 buses are equipped with GPS. A BMTC source said it requires huge money and infrastructure for real-time monitoring facility. It has sent a proposal to the Union government seeking money under Nirbhaya funds to install CCTV and GPS in all buses. By end of June, 250 buses will be equipped with GPS. - - - The Intelligent Transport System (ITS), to be launched on a pilot basis from March 1, did not take off.

So, even as the private buses are all set to provide the entire gamut of services, the BMTC lot are perhaps waiting for YourBus to make the "right kind" of approach to them.

Meanwhile, somebody else approached KSRTC in Mysore the "right" way, and between them, they blew up a lot JNNURM funds to provide some kind of an ITS service. Though the report on the same (accessible here) says a few positive things about it, I am not sure of its efficacy, since otherwise, I can't see why it has not been adopted by BMTC. Or, have the inter-service provider approaches too be done in the "right" way?

If I have referred to them as mafia like operations here, now you know why. And, this is largely the case with most PSU's (with the exceptions, of course).

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

cost escalation not quite the reason

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The backbone of Bengaluru’s critical public transport system (BMTC) hardly paints a pretty picture. By marrying technology with disciplined management, transparency with public connect, can ITS (set for April launch) rev up this system to make it attractive enough for Bengalureans to shed their private cars and SUVs?

- - - ITS is about equipping each of those 6,500 BMTC buses with electronic systems linked to a central control room. The systems include a Vehicle Monitoring Unit (VMU), a camera-linked Global Positioning System (GPS) and an Electronic Ticketing Machine (ETM). The VMU and GPS track the bus speed, time taken to reach a bus station and the driving, rash or otherwise.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the Deccan Herald, click here. Alongside, was another report, excerpts from which are reproduced below (full text may be accessed here):

BMTC, now on the threshold of launching its Intelligent Transport System (ITS) could have perfected the same model for its buses 10 years ago. It discontinued a similar, but SMS-based bus-tracking service called Yelli-Iddira?

- - - - The service would have cost BMTC a few lakhs of rupees. Years after Yelli-Iddira was dumped, a tie-up was in the offing for a similar project, but at an estimated cost of Rs 69 crore. This too did not materialise. The ITS project now being prepared for an April launch costs even more. Couldn’t this cost escalation have been avoided had the transport corporation continued and upgraded ‘Yelli-Iddira?’
 

The reason is not cost escalation; the more appropriate term would be "racketeering" - an affliction quite common amongst most PSU's - check here. Or, if you choose to be a bit charitable, you could term it an unintelligent way of setting up an "Intelligent Transport System".

‘Yelli-Iddira?’ (Yi) provided the essential info that a commuter needed to know, and at very little cost to him or BMTC. For all of that (perhaps, because of that), it was dumped. Subsequently, Mysore KSRTC, deciding that Yi was not fancy enough, spent something like Rs 15 cr to put together its 'ITS system'. It hasn't been talked about as a model to follow, even by BMTC - see my post of 21/03/14, scrolling above. BMTC then went about tying up with some Trimax, over a Rs 69 cr deal, which was supposed to be launched Independence day last year. It's one year since then, and that too hasn't seen the light of day. A mid-Sept '15 report, cited here, talked about the cost having gone up to Rs 79 cr; we don't know where it'll end ultimately, if it'll end at all.

The only way out of all of this is through an end to the government monopoly in these vital infrastructure services - check here for more on that.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Intelligent - not sure one can call it that!

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Starting Wednesday noon, you can catch your bus on time. BMTC is launching the country’s first Intelligent Transport System (ITS) which will give you the estimated time of arrival (ETA) down to the minute, on an app

ITS will integrate the vehicle tracking system, information from electronic ticketing machines (ETMs) and real-time passenger information and make it available on the app. Clicking into the app can help you plan your travel from home. Feed the bus stop from where you want to access the bus and destination on the latest version of the BMTC app, which provides details of buses in the vicinity , and their ETA at the bus stop. You can find them on the city map or see the list.

- - - BMTC director Bishwajit Mishra said, “The control room monitors all data from 75,993 daily trips, and we have developed a dashboard that categorizes the different parameters of operation to know what is happening on the ground. Initially , we are expecting technical glitches because the data we will handle is huge and the biggest challenge is to give the ETA, which cannot be too accurate.“ It will cost BMTC Rs 1.10 crore per month, but EV Ramanna Reddy , principal secretary of the transport department, says it is just 1% of the corporation’s expenditure.


For the full text (emphasis added by me) of the report, in Bangalore5.com, click here.

Finally, they claim to have got it going, but with a caveat "initially, we are expecting technical glitches". The cost supposedly is "Rs 1.10 cr a month". The last we heard the project cost had gone up to Rs 79 cr (see my post of 26th Feb, scrolling above). One wonders if the Rs 1.10 cr is in addition to interest and depreciation on the project cost. The irony of it all is that a large part of it was available over a decade back at a hundredth of the cost.

Besides, I wonder how much of the info provided is relevant today, particularly in view of ZipGo, Ola, RedBus, etc having moved onto newer technologies. Also, I am not sure BMTC has the capacity to keep it going. All in all, it'll be interesting to see how long it all lasts.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

cash-less BMTC rides - would like to believe it's happening

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With demonetization the talk of the town and going cashless the need of the hour, BMTC started cashless rides on a trial basis, last Monday. BMTC managing director Ekroop Caur said the service will be formally launched in January 2017.

The passenger just needs to tap a smart card on an electronic ticketing machine while boarding and alighting the bus, and the fare is deducted from the cash stored in the card. This will reduce the need to tender change to commuters and increase transparency for BMTC.

"The card is in line with the national mission of having a common mobility card. It has specifications where the card can be used for transit and non-transit transactions. The card will be launched for citizens by January 2017. Right now, we are running a trial for our staff to see if all the specifications are working or not," she added.

"The card is in line with the national mission of having a common mobility card. It has specifications where the card can be used for transit and non-transit transactions. The card will be launched for citizens by January 2017. Right now, we are running a trial for our staff to see if all the specifications are working or not," she added.


For the full text of the report in the ToI, click here.

One wonders if this smart card scheme is part of the the much talked about (but yet to see the light of the day) Rs 79 cr ITS scheme, or something anew.

Whatever, I'll start believing it only after I see it in effective operation, since we have been seeing too many gimmckries from BMTC (going by the statements of insiders - check here) to accept these announcements at face value.

Muralidhar Rao

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