Today's ToI, has reported that "the BMTC will roll out new services on Thursday, Bus Day, reducing the number of times you change your bus while travelling" . For the full report, click here.
Yesterday, I made a trip to Mysore to attend a family function - a 'cousin-in-law' lives there. I chose to try and use public transport as far as possible. Overall, I made 11 (sub)-trips, 1 by walk, 2 by auto, 1 by personal transport (car), and the rest 7 by bus. Some details pertaining to each are listed below:
1) Home in S T Bed layout to Egipura jn, by walk - 5 minutes.
2) Caught the BIAL-7A (which leaves HSR laout at 7.40AM) at around 7.55 AM to reach Domlur, paying Rs 25/- for the ride.
3) After a 5 minute wait, caught a 335E (Vajra) to reach KBS (Kempegowda Bus Station) at around 8.40AM, paying Rs 45/- for the ride.
4) Almost immediately, got on to a "shuttle" to reach the Mysore road Satellite station at around 9.15 AM, paying Rs 10/- for the ride. The station is looking generally orderly. I used the toilet (no:1 job), paying a Rs 2/- charge for the same. Though, there appears to be somebody cleaning up periodically, the upkeep could certainly be a lot better. But, even to begin with, the ventillation for the toilet area appears to be pretty poor, which I would consider a serious design deficiency. KSRTC/ BMTC authorities could certainly take a lesson from their Kochi counterparts in this respect - check this.
5) Got onto a waiting 'Airawat' that left at around 9.40 AM. The ride fare was Rs 265/-. Midway, it stopped at Kamat restauarant, which had decent toilets, and served a decent fare. For Rs 45/-, I had a single idli (it came in the form of a 'kadabu') and a cup of coffee for Rs 45/-. Reached Mysore city bus station at around 12.15 PM. The toilet here too suffered from almost the same problems as at the Satellite station.
6) Took a pre-paid auto to Sreerampuram 2nd stage (function venue), paying Rs 121/- for the ride (must have been around 8km), including a Rs 10/- tip.
7) On the return, got a ride in a relative's car upto the Mysore city bus stand.
8) Again, there was a waiting Airawat, which reached me to the Mysore road Satellite station by around 6.15 PM, for a fare of Rs 265/-.
9) Again, there was a shuttle waiting to take off in the adjoining bay, and it reached me at KBS by around 7PM.
10) At KBS, I had a choice of three 335E's, all with engines on, and ready to take off, and the conductors vying with each other to attract customers. When I asked a conductor, which one will take off first, he candidly said "whichever fills up first". Perhaps, the regular commuters know the game, and immediately the driver took the seat in one of them, and started inching the vehicle forward, a whole lot of them charged in from all over, almost filling up the vehicle. 335E is a well served route. For all of that, by the time the bus reached Mayo Hall (where I got off, paying Rs 35/- for the ride, to take try the G-2 link to Koramangala), our bus was full - of course, it was the peak hour. So, was another that followed less the some 3 minutes later, which passed by when I was waiting on Commissariat road (just before the Garuda Mall junction) for the G-2. I waited for almost 15 minutes, and gave up. A couple of times earlier also, G-2 has let me down.
11) Took an auto that came by, and reached home by around 8.10PM, paying Rs 70/- for the ride.
Excepting for the G-2 (at sl no 11), the waiting were for very bearable periods, making for a fairly smooth trip overall, even with having to make 3 changes both ways.
The point I am making is that, as long as there is good frequency of services, making changes need not be much of an issue. The problem with BMTC's approach of providing direct (change-less) connectivity is that the frequency will invariably tend to suffer. As such, if you miss a bus, you'll land up with the much costlier option of taking an auto, whereas with good frequency, the next bus will be available to you within 5 minutes.
When the "direction-oriented" Big-10 services were introduced, it was announced that all the services along parallel routes will eventually be merged with the Big-10 services to provide for high frequency (I had the suggested as here) for a more comprehensive system, covering the whole city). Unfortunately, however, the BMTC has not only not done that, but seems to be persisting more and more with its "destination-oriented" routing. Apart from the problem of poor frequency that this results in, is the fact of these services catering only to very niche segments, which could result in poor ridership, in turn meaning poor revenue accrual. Here, of course, since it's targeted at the generally well-to-do IT sector employees, they could be profit-making. But, of course, that's going to be at the cost of providing more services to the aam aadmi. And, for a monopoly government-owned service, that is not quite in order, and is not going to be seen too kindly by the populace - check this. In addition to all of these, is the totally confusing numbering - 378-H, 228-J, 61-EP, etc.
Many 'experts' and 'expert groups', including a team from PRAJA-RAAG (the Bus Day concept evolved out of this), have tried repeatedly to engage with BMTC/ KSRTC to improve their services. The services have improved, and they both are supposedly the best in the country in their respective domains. But, Bangalore is a city that provides/ manufactures high quality services/ goods for customers across the world, and at competitive prices. We can no longer accept services that are just marginally better than those in other Indian cities. For that, they need to do a lot lot more. If they can't, they should make room for others - check this.
PS: The Mysore trip (largely by A/c bus) cost me Rs 845/- overall. If I had taken my car instead, the fuel cost alone would have been been Rs 1400/-, assuming a total run of 300km, and assuming my car giving 15km per litre. So, if I were going along-with one other person, perhaps it would have been worth it, considering the flexibility and thereby the time saved. But, going by the reasoning here, by Yajamaru, a car trip would actually have cost Rs 9,000/- - well, good to be aware.