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Joys of public transport

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Public Transport

Public transport is fun. Sometimes I think of our lives as bubbles. In the house with familiar people, in the office with known colleagues, and in the car or on the bike alone, we may not really be mingling-connecting with our city, isn't it? That philosophical take apart, here are some pictures and experiences after trying BMTC a lot (upto 4-5 times a day) over last month.

The route I frequented was Whitefield to Domlur/Manipal hospital. I tried all types of buses, Volvos, the MBS (those blue colored long route buses), the regular services, the night service. Crowding levels worsened as you moved 'down', and was worse in the night service buses. From what I could gather, night service is a single entry door bus, with the driver doing driving as well ticket vending job.

Conductors are pretty rude, doesn't matter whether you try to converse in kannada or french. But after I tried to talk to them about their problems, working conditions etc, they opened up nicely. I learned so much from them (of course, it would all be their "versions"), that it calls for a separate post on its own. Later.

Bus stands are a study in chaos. Its very rare to have an auto or a call center cab *not* parked at a bus stop, thus making the job of drivers harder. And if the bus is not standing on the pavement, a bike or an auto might be waiting to crush your toes as you step out. Most bus drivers like to park close to the pavements, but about a third of them don't. Perhaps they are afraid of another bus or autos double parking next to them thus delaying their departure.

Volvo was the most interesting case study. The comfort and convenience comes cheap, How is Rs 35 for a ticket on 500K from Kundalahalli to Jayanagar 5th phase? Driving a car will cost you two liters of petrol, thats Rs 110. So even a family of three can take the Volvo, ride in a big air conditioned compartment, and still save some money. Generally speaking, regular bus tickets cost about a third of Volvo fares. But yes, the comforts are not good enough to tempt the car users. See that picture with leg room for example. Its worse than Air Deccan.

Coming back to the Volvos, it is frustrating not to live on the exact route of 335E. You get a 335E every 10-12 minutes. With that frequency, timings or "Yelli idira" etc don't matter - maximum you ever wait is 10 minutes.

But for 500K, it matters. BMTC website says there would be a 500K from ITPL at 4:50, 5:20 and 5:50 pm. We were at Kundalahalli (10 mins from ITPL) at 5:25 pm. But 500K showed up at 6:05 pm. 40 minutes of standing at stinking dirty pavements, well thats a big no no. There are two ways of solving this, 1) have nicer bus stands, so that each second doesn't seem like a minute or, 2) have "yelli idira" - so that I can show up just in time. Having both will be ideal, but #2 is a must and easier done!

Next, whether its low frequency 500K or high frequency 335E, unless I live very close to the routes of these buses, I have a problem - need a drop till a Volvo route. Thats an inconvenience. The need for local shuttle was just too apparent. If we had a shuttle running circles in Whitefield (Varthur Road, Brookfield, ITPL Road), I can see a lot of folks making use of 335E and 500K. In fact, with local shuttles in place, BMTC can easily cut on the "variants", and instead increase frequency on identified "trunk" routes. For example: 333P and 335E are the same from Majestic to Kundalahalli, just the route within Whitefield differs. 333P service uses 4 Volvos, 335E 12. If BMTC adds all 4 of these to 335E, and runs a Swaraj Mazda type vehicle on the "Whitefield loop", the end result will be even more frequent 335E, and increased usage of 335E.

You can think of similar examples from Koramangala, Jayanagar or elsewhere, just that I am familiar with bus routes only in my area.

Okay, its getting too long here. Time to summarize:

  • BMTC is better than the perception it carries.
  • Volvos have great scope, but must have
    • 1) last mile shuttles
    • 2) yelli idira
[PS: All of what I write here has been discussed here. Just that I experienced these things myself, with the hope that it will help us get rid of the armchair expert tags :) ]


narayan82's picture

Bus Finders

61 users have liked.

Yelli Iddira maybe great for the passengers, but BMTC doesn't seem to see the fruit in implementing it! I propose a simpler facility.

Let every conductor on each bus have a mobile phone (he already probably does) On the charts the display timings (or websites) next to the Bus No. & Time let the Mobile No. be there. Hence if I am going for a 5 50 bus I can call at 5 40 and ask where the bus is.

For Example the card would read: 330K 4 15 PM (99450 04345)

 A bit of teething trouble and the driver/conducter will learn how to manage a phone call. Investment amount is rather low (as most already have phones) and hardly any running costs as incoming calls are free. 

Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
bangalore-guy's picture

bad idea.

65 users have liked.

Driver/Conductors telling the position of the bus by answering phone calls is not a good idea.

1) Not scalable, they cannot handle large number of calls.

2) Will distract them from their primary task (driving/ticketing)

GPS based Yelli idira is the way to go.

narayan82's picture

temporary solution

69 users have liked.
I don't mean it as a permanent fixture. Until GPS/Yelli iddira falls into place (technically)this can be a stand in scheme. Maybe it can be limited only to Taxi Drivers dropping people off at the Vaayu Vajra Buss top (like the SGL cabs and CellCabs.) Then they know when to leave and which stop to drop a passenger at.
Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
silkboard's picture

Local shuttles example

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The comment got too long and was giving problem here, so I have dug a little deep into Whitefield in this separate post.
sanchitnis's picture

We need smaller buses

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There is no point in running schedules with 1 hour gap especially when the timings are irratic. I would prefer that we run Smaller buses (such as Tata winger etc. ) with at most 15 minutes gaps. These will be much cheaper than Volvos and quite comfortable. comment guidelines

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