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BMTC e-purse to be introduced next week

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Yes, it is almost there. In about a week, BMTC will introduce e-purse which can be used to pay for your BMTC tickets instead of cash. The first phase of the roll out will be experimental and this scheme will soon be expanded after KEONICS finds BOOT partners to implement the system. Ella OK but I have some quirks about the way it is implemented.

But before I start whining, here is some key information about the system.

  • It uses a non-contact smart card
  • Costs 65 Rs to own one and then you can 'top-up' or 'recharge' it in multiples of 50 Rs.
  • In future, this card will also be usable not only for paying BMTC, but also for other public utilities and for general shopping with participating merchants.

Great! We really welcome this change and look forward to owning a e-purse soon.

Now, owing to my blogger instincts, I cant help but to crib a bit here. (Or lets say, suggesting a better way of implementation)

Based on this Indian Express article,

Every time a commuter boards the BMTC bus all he has to do is to display the card in front of a local smartcard reader installed in the bus and tell the destination to the conductor. He would then type the travel amount which will be deducted from the card, Tripathi explained.

So it is one more example of automatic but not quite !! When you have an electronic system, should you not aim for squeezing all the flexibility out of the system? All you are doing now is getting rid of currency as a medium of financial transaction and using plastic money instead. No big deal.

Lets have a look at a comparable system in Singapore (my knowledge is a few years outdated, so correct me if there are more progresses there).

This is how the system works

  • You have a smart card that you have to purchase and top up (Identical to what we will have in Bangalore)
  • You board the bus and hold your card against the reader ( Identical to what we will have in Bangalore)
  • The reader displays your card balance and makes note of the stop (or stage) where you boarded the bus. No deductions are made at this stage.
  • When you alight, you show your card at the reader at the exit door and now (since the system knows which stop you boarded), based on the distance you travel, a deduction is made.
  • If some smart guy tries to alight the bus without showing his card to the reader (this is possible, the exit doors are not monitored), the next time he boards any bus, he will be automatically charged a penalty!!
  • If you are continuing a journey from another bus/train, the system already knows you and gives you a suitable discount.

Does this system not make more sense? No extra investment to what is already being planned. Some modified software will do this job. They already have a GPS system on many buses so they can link this to automatically recognise the fare stages or in the worst case the driver can push a button after every stage.

The advantages

  • Role of the conductor is eliminated and thats a lot of save manpower.
  • The driver concentrated mostly on driving and not on calculating the fare for each passenger.
  • Integrates great with Metro and other services when they are ready.
  • Easy to implement complicated tariff system (like treating break journeys as continuous one etc).

I think while they are at it, they should implement a system like this rather than the simple one they have in mind. That one is not going to solve many problems. Given the fact that it will take some time to get the public educated and trusting for this kind of a change, they would rather do it in one go than two.

Incidentally, the news articles on this do not mention where we can get the cards recharged. I presume they will have machines at selected locations but would be great if they can provide a facility at major bus stops where people can use cash/cards to charging this thing up.

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cvikash's picture

Half-baked solutions make the problem worse..

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Based on a detailed interaction with BMTC and with Tripathy...BMTC doesn't get more than 3 out of 10. That is like Sachin Tendulkar or Rahul Dravid scoring just a 30 or 40 every third match. I wonder why we tend to mollycoddle our public utilities like BMTC and don't demand exacting standards, even when we have alternatives from the private sector. Are we too frustrated, cynical or scared or what? 1. BMTC has brought new initiatives, swanky buses and stops etc. to their credit. On an objective appraisal though, BMTC hides lots of muck underneath and worse tries to cover it with its well-crafted propaganda. 2. In our study and validated by others, we found that the 500 odd GPS boxes were almost lying defunct as the data was just dumped and later they have even stopped downloading it. The main problems were that BMTC has failed to standardise even the start time of its buses, or what it should do if the driver skips stops or makes unscheduled stops, which were both rampant. 3. They have come up with convoluted solutions even as in spite of advice and their own promise, they have failed to come up with a printed bus time table pocketbook and take contingent actions to ensure that buses run on schedule. 4. Instead they come up with a slothful and highly inappropriate design of the proposed "Park and Ride" system in Bangalore. The "Park and Ride" as referred to in your article leaves a number of basic questions unanswered. Bus stations designed as swanky malls may look good in picture. Bus stations where people can drive in with their petrol/diesel car/ 2-wheelers and can also shop and return home may also sound impressive. The problem is that it overlooks the primary function of a "Park and Ride" System. Ask yourself following questions and also pose it to the fleet of babus and agencies like RITES who put a stamp of "expert" approval on it. a. How suitable are petrol car/ two wheelers for feeder trips (<3 kms.) to the proposed Park & Ride hubs? b. What will be time taken to access, park and the waiting time to board a bus to a given estination? At what load factors ? c. Will this be more attractive than a direct car/2-wheeler trip? d. How much do user pay for parking? e. What will be the effect of localised pollution in the hub area and inside the parking building? f. How do pedestrians, bicyclists access the hub with safety and with "respect" ? Ref: Brace up for Park & Ride at www.deccanherald.com/Cont... Regards, Vikash

Chandra Vikash
Head – Innovation & Communication

tsubba's picture

soopar analysis. agree.

ಮೇಲೆ
99 users have liked.
soopar analysis. agree. again, it's not about going hifi but about automation. complete, deep automation. recharge @ website also. how 'bout a look at their website?
shas3n's picture

Half baked indeed

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110 users have liked.
'half baked', yeah that is the word. Why is that those who are in control seem to be not getting things that are obvious to us? Why dont they understand that piecemeal approach wont work and the whole system needs to be designed in one go? I agree with what Vikash said too. If they go ahead with those shop and ride things as they are currently designed, they will solve no problem at all. I, honestly cant understand why there is such a dearth of a broader perspective with those in control. After all, aren't they the one who are supposed to know better? Is there a feedback mechanism that we can forward this post to? -Shastri

-Shastri

tsubba's picture

petrol

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108 users have liked.
#1. what are current feasible alternatives to petrol? #2. how do you phase out existing petrol vehicles? how to meaningfully improve pedestrian and cycle safety in BLR?
cvikash's picture

alternatives to petrol/ pedestrian and cycle rights

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Hi Tarle S: There are no "current", "feasible" alternatives to petrol "on a platter" or "lollypops". The alternatives will only emerge as a property when we can see the whole system and design for it, as Sastri suggests. This is hard work as much as a specialised skill of systems thinking. Ironically, experts argue that it does come to us naturally but most of us lose it to the formal education and corporate process. It certainly seems to be "decimated" in the selection and training process of many of our bureaucrats, as the case of BMTC suggests. #1. a. petrol at higher fuel economy and higher payload efficiency (people or goods) b. substituting petrol run vehicles for "short trips" by leaner, more energy efficient vehicles running on batteries preferably charged using solar panels and optimal utilisation of human power c. A basket of fuels - CNG, LPG, biofuels, biodiesel, hydrogen fuel cells/ wind/tidal power to produce hydrogen - which can only be developed if the govt. agrees to create an "energy transition fund" which factors the cost of transition into the present price of petrol as a depleting resource. #2. An effective way to phase out petrol vehicle is to delink ownership from usage. The utilisation, inertia and whims and fancies are so high in case of private vehicle. In comparison on-demand vehicle service provided by an "airlines-like roadlines service provider will catalyse the phasing out process and bringing in energy-efficient - hybrid/PHEV as well as space-efficient vehicles. #3. Violation of pedestrian and cycling rights in most Indian cities are a reflection of the diabetic state of mind of our bureaucracy, much before it afflicts the body. Lack of walking and cycling has certainly sucked out lots of juice from the bureaucrat's lives, which they tend to compensate by petrol power, which comes free to them. In my studies, bureaucrats, as a category, are the biggest guzzlers of petrol/diesel in the country and who look down upon walking and cycling. The state of affairs is only a reflection of their sick minds and body. It shows up in the automobile-dependent land-use in Greater Noida in Delhi NCR, recently built for the babus and by the babus and of the babus, serviced by an 8-lane expressway, 23 km. long to reach this township. Regards, Vikash

Chandra Vikash
Head – Innovation & Communication

tsubba's picture

multi scale problem

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107 users have liked.
:) have always maintained, that reductionism is a curse, helps in understanding to an extent but not in problem solving. agree that vision is the most important factor in this. somebody at the top who has strong convictions and vision of what ought to be. check out, Sweden's dream of phasing out oil by 2020. (There are links in there to more details) BMTC, BLR and even KA has no control over the fundamentals. The fundamental impetus, to really address many of the issues has to come from Dilli. With the term in the last quarter, what MMS did to economy, can he do for transport and transit? and declare policies that address issues fundamental to transit and more importantly fuel that fuels it? our problems, including congestion, are just symptoms of a multi scale problem. there are problem's within the scale level of BMTC, BLR & KA, that they can handle. what are they, and what can they do? even to address these, Dilli comes comes to play. There is a serious lack of domain expertise at the local level. All the experts sit in Dilli or at its command. How many town planners, traffic engineers does a city of 70 lakhs like BLR have? Why is it that RITES has to be hired? The mother of all divestments, is perhaps to divest state control. You pay taxes in BLR and not even a quarter of it comes back. How is BLR to pay for all that is necessary for it even to breathe? There is NURM, but how much vision can ordinary citizens be assumed to have? Will NURM pay for services of a city planner? The only sustainable plan to save our cities of > 10 lakh pop is to develop other small towns, will NURM pay for it?
tsubba's picture

Bangalore 2040

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117 users have liked.
perhaps, BLR should take a break from making roads for an year and organize 4 serious, honest to god, weeklong conferences on BLR over that year. Themes including, broad vision, particular ideas etc should all be at play in these conferences. all presentations, papers -- open source. consolidate ideas from these and form vision Bangalore 2040 and then hire people to develop plans to achieve that.
silkboard's picture

public or private?

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108 users have liked.
[copying this comment over from another discussion - more relevant here] Actually, on the subject of BMTC - I think the jury is still out on whether privatizing municipal transportation is better than having public monopolies. Look at Delhi. Privatizing city bus services hasn't help the city leapfrog its public transportation system. However, a public monopoly (Metro) is helping a bit. Looking deeper, even Metro alone can't solve Delhi's woes. We will hear more on this subject in due time, let the shine of glitzy stations die down a bit. An integrated transportation system is what we need. And private players can't have end to end role in this large integrated setup - thats too risky. A private monopoly, or even duopoly is worst than a public monopoly. Look at DTH for a fresh example. If you privatize Bangalore's bus services, private players will want to run higher margin services - Volvo types and pay less attention to lower margin mass transport systems. Regulations may help solve that - like it has in telecom sector where they force operators to spend in rural areas, directly or indirectly. Taking BMTC public (aka corporatizing it) may not the best answer as well. Should BMTC exist to make profits, or to provide services? Now just because I have confused the hell out of my own arguments here, don't expect me to provide a good answer. The best I can think is an integrated transportation setup, with a govt body like BMTC to monitor it, and smaller pieces of this integrated setup thrown open to private players. So you would have - Metro competing with Indian railways or bus operators for long haul city routes - Separate set of companies competing on short-haul bus routes - Yet another set of companies competing on very-short local routes: provide autos, Revas or whatever to take me home from my bus stop or train station - Last, make sure no single player can provide service in all three categories. After all this, what does a BMTC like regulatory body do? They make sure that these separate pieces of transportation system mesh together really well in terms of schedules, fares and services like sanitation, information, and help for elderly/handicapped folks etc. Okay, I got to stop now.
tsubba's picture

BTA

ಮೇಲೆ
98 users have liked.
agree with this. I'll just switch BMTC with a BTA. #1. Now BTA should aim for profitability. Only with profitability, can it aim to innovate. Only with profitability can it even begin to think in anticipation and catch up with demand. otherwise they will be left begging for funds to do routine maintenance. (There are other examples, but lets take BMTC itself, only after it moved out of KSRTC's ambit, could it focus. You've got to see the service in Mysore, HD.) #2. BTA should play direct role in City planning and infrastructure. You cannot plan ITPL, UB City, the malls or that waiting to happen disaster at Malleshwara and other places without considering Public Transits view point. At the same time BMTC should not be seen begging BDA for Road over drains, bus lanes, land for transit facilities. for the next 15-20 years, think outside the box and make BTA the primary agency in BLR. You want to make a township? carve a layout?, first check with BTA to see if you have space allotted road space and if passes the traffic producer-consumer connectivity tests, and if there is space for footpath and cycle. If I'm not wrong, currently they look at the width of the road in front of the property to decide what development to allow. Yeah the road in front of EC is zillion meters long, but what about Silkboard?
tsubba's picture

Petition

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99 users have liked.
Since we all agree with the idea of unification of transit services, can we at praja as a community work out a petition? This is the problem, this is the idea, these are petition, this is the plea. We need a four section article. We could a wiki edit of the petition. Then send it BMTC, BMRC, BDA, BMP, BMRDA and finally to CM and his chief secretary to anybody who has ears. Praja folks have to participate though. On the tech side, shastri, can anybody edit a page?
silkboard's picture

good idea tarle

ಮೇಲೆ
98 users have liked.
We probably need a PIL asking for a BTA, and a track-able action plan from state government. Let me start a post talking about a petition or a PIL. If more than 10 people sign-up to share the running around job and costs if any involved, I will say lets do something.
tsubba's picture

some leads

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101 users have liked.
#1. Transport For London #2. Greater London Authority Act, 1999 #3. MTA, NY #4. Victoria folks if you have any leads please do post. including leads of disconnected networks like in singapore. but please look to see if there is somebody cor-ordinating between the various agencies.
tsubba's picture

BTA- What the CDP Says

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This is what Bangalore CDP Volume 1 Chapter IX, Roads & Transportation Section 5 Implementation Framework, page 115, says... 5.1 Unified Transport Authority Currently a number of agencies directly or indirectly deal with urban transportation issues. Direct service providers are the BMTC and BMRC (when operational), Indian Railways (for CRS, when operational), and any operational agencies for other systems such as ARL or LRT/Monorail. Indirect service providers are the ULBs and Statutory Authorities for basic infrastructure, Traffic Police, and the Transport Department of GoK. It is clear that there has to be very strong coordination between various agencies, not only in initial investments in creating a system, but also in its operations. The GoK is currently doing such coordination. However, GoK has recognized the clear need, also articulated in the National Urban Transport Policy, for a separate Urban Transport Authority. Such Authority will provide the necessary planning, coordination, and skill base that is needed to implement the critical and specialized urban transport function. GoK has already passed a Government Order nominating a nodal officer to set in place the necessary frameworks for creating and empowering such an Urban Transport Authority for Bangalore.
tsubba's picture

KSRTC case

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HC continues stay on division of KSRTC The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday continued a stay it had granted earlier against a single judge order annulling the division of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) into smaller entities. A Division Bench comprising Justice S.R. Bannurmath and Justice A.N. Venugopal Gowda passed the order on appeals by the KSRTC and others against the order annulling the division. On July 2, 2007, a single judge allowed petitions by workmen of KSRTC, represented by the KSRTC Staff and Workers Federation and its office-bearer, S. Nagaraj, and quashed Government notifications “dividing” the KSRTC into smaller corporations. The single judge had said that the consent of the Centre had not been obtained before the State decided to establish separate road transport corporations for Bangalore (BMTC), and three other corporations. The State Government, KSRTC, BMTC, and other corporations had filed an appeal against the single judge order and also sought a stay of the order.

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