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Competition without regulation, like this

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BusPublic Transport

BMTC and privatization

I see this every other day on my commute, and to many who back competition and liberalization in public transport as a possible solution, this picture represents the fear keeping them from being vocal supporters of the idea. On one side, you have a 3-4 year old nice big bus. Pushing it out of the stand though is a 15 year old vehicle which would be worth a lot less than the bribes it'd take to get operating licenses from RTO.

One would think the competition would just be blown away here. But transport minister Mr R Ashok) announced a ban on maxi cabs last month. We hear that these cabs have approached the courts. We don't have the details yet, but if the courts do take up their plea, it will be interesting to follow this case.

Now, why does this cab exist despite plenty of nicer BMTC buses being around on this route? I asked the driver himself, and he gave me two answers. 1) Lower fares! 2) This route (Kundalahalli to Varthur Lake) dosn't have many BMTC services in early mornings and late evening hours. For the first point, refer Vasanth's argument that recent fare hikes from BMTC and KSRTC may be a bit much. I haven't fully verified the second point, but when I used BMTC like crazy three months ago, getting to Whitefield via Varthur Road after 7 PM or so was noticably difficult due to low frequencies.

Take competition out of the frame for a moment. You could easily replace the maxi cab above with yet another BMTC bus. Don't we see the classic "two bus block" near bus stands on so many arterial roads? I have two issues with the bus crowding seen at the stands.

  1. No enforcement near the bus stand. Obvious one, we have talked this to death on various other posts, so leave this one alone.
  2. Why is it that the bus stands see so many simultaneous bus arrivals? Why should a bus stand ever see 4 buses at the very same time?

#2 is sort of a proof of the fact that BMTC's routing scheme is not optimized. Running long point to point routes creates two problems. 1) Makes it difficult to keep consistent time gap between two buses on same route. Traffic conditions add variance, and long routes amplify the effect of the variance 2) There should be fewer and shorter routes, and lots of interchange points. But with long point to point services, and the pressure to connect so many points with each other, a lot of BMTC's routes "overlap" leading to needless jostling between the buses.

Agree?

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narayan82's picture

Routing...

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W.r.t pt 2: I think routing is planned for a city with smooth moving traffic, but Bangalore not being anywhere close to that, is the main reason why routing goes for a six. If BRTS, is implemented these routing schemes might work. It is very hard to run a service in such traffic. Then on top of that the drivers dont have a watch. So in such cases when each minute counts, they probable leave 5-10 mins this way that way! which can add salt to the wound.
Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
Bangalore
s_yajaman's picture

Coverage of roads in Jayanagar

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One of the reasons why so many buses come piling into bus stops is that BMTC's routes tend to run on the same set of roads. 

Take the case of Jayanagar - it is one of the best planned layouts in Bangalore with plenty of wide roads running NS and EW. 

However

a. Not one bus runs along 11th main road (except BIAS5).  All buses from JP Nagar go on 9th Main.  At least some of Rt No 2 can be diverted along 11th Main - anyway there are routes 2, 2A,2E,2F,2XYZ.

b. Not one bus runs along 38th cross (a long uninterrupted stretch from 4th main till 27th main)

c. Buses from Banashankari to Shivajinagar all move to 40th cross and then to 9th main and then to Ashoka Pillar.  Not one goes along RV Road - JC Road - Siddaiah Road - Double Road)

Net result - the same roads get more and more buses.  People living along other roads have to walk a fair distance given how much the distance between bus stops is.  A two-wheeler is the best choice - the cost disadvantage is not much and the time advantage is far too much. 

The other thing that can be done is staggered bus stops.  E.g. on Residency Road - one set of bus stops for Indiranagar bound buses, one for KR Puram and one for Airport Road bound buses.  This can avoid overcrowding at one place.

Lots of things possible.  Mindset has to change.

Srivathsa

 

 

 

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

Rithesh's picture

One of the reasons for low frequency

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I travel on the ring road every day. One interesting thing to be noted is that these Maxi Cabs operate only during the peak hours - between 7:30AM to 10:30AM and 4:30PM to 8:00PM. It is only during this time that they can actually make profits. Reason being during these peak times the no of buses available for public goes down - a lot of the buses are hired by software parks and PSU companies to shuttle their employees. People may argue that BMTC is doing a good thing by providing buses to these people else they would have used their cars or 2 wheelers. But thats not the point. BMTC should withdraw from these sectors and let the private players handle this. Its not that if BMTC withdraws there will be no service providers. There are plenty private service providers. BMTC's mandate is for public transport and that should be their main objective. It will be interesting to find out from BMTC how many buses (in terms of percentage) are employed for these private services. I have observed that the frequency of BMTC buses during off peak times on the Ring Road is very good. One the lighter side - a few of these Maxi Cabs are also fitted with small TVs, another incentive for people to use them.
kbsyed61's picture

Filing a RTI would be a good start !

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Ritesh,

Very good observation and feedback. Filing a RTI to find out the details would be good start.

Things to be requested:

  1.  No. of Buses leased/Contract to IT/BT/MICO/Private companies.
  2. List of companies who have contracted these BMTC service.
  3. What are the timing that these are run on contract?
  4. Are these buses are additional to the normal schedule?
  5. If not, what is the impact on normal schedule?
  6. How many routes are affected?
  7. What is the revenue earned thru contracts?
  8. What is revenue loss/profit due to diversion for contract service?
  9. What is rational/reasons for contract policy?
  10. What is approval process for getting the contract?
  11. Total number of buses that are in running condition for BMTC operation.
  12. Total number of buses that are run as per normal schedule.
  13. Total number of buses on standby
  14. Average number of buses that are in shed for repairs on daily basis.
asj's picture

Some thoughts

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SB,
Hi! Shorter routes will not help, more likely cause the overall service to become poorer. Won't go here in to route and frequency rationalisation as its covered on another post.

Going to your image of 2 buses sitting beside each other - the solution is bus driver training. I lived at Haji-Ali, Mumbai where there are dozen odd bus routes, never in 10 years did I see the above. First, what they did was, over time stagger the bus stops and have 3 separated by 100 meters from each other. Second, bus drivers stick to left lane, and line up if need be but not do what your image shows.

In UK, again, as a thumb rule, buses are in left lane unless they are overtaking ot turning right.

Also road layouts are vital - I have focused on this already else where but once again look at the picture below -



See the red bus bay, it begins well before the actual bus stop and goes beyond too. This makes it possible for two buses to queue up behind one another. Note the hatched markings, vehicles can overtake if there is no on-coming traffic - as simple as that.

Unable to embed this video clip I took from busy Uxbridge road in Ealing, London -

http://better.pune.googlepages.com/ealing_bendi_asj.wmv 

You will see a Bendi bus (articulated = to 2 buses) hugging the footpath, traffic overtaking behind it and a double deck lines up just behind it. The bendi bus moves out and when it does note the bus stop bay again going well beyond the bus stop.

The correct solution is driver training, nothing to do with routes/frequencies which may be modified for other reasons but not this one.

Cheers

ASJ
murali772's picture

an essential pre-requisite

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A large part of the problem lies in the fact that 75% of the 38,000 maxicabs in the state are owned by the STU, police and other government departmental staff themselves (check: http://bangalore.praja.in/blog/murali772/2008/10/27/private-sector-challenge). This was quite the case with the Blueline operations in Delhi also. So, there's a huge vested interest in retaining the status quo.

In fact, that's why, in my modified policy paper, I had introduced the following two para's in line with the UP government's approach, in order to eliminate the riff-raff.

 

  • A state regulatory body, named say Karnataka Land Transport Authority (KLTA), to be constituted, more or less on the lines of the KERC (after dissolving the Transport Department), to oversee all aspects related to the field, including functions like those of RTO.
  • Public bus transport sector to be opened out to facilitate entry of (say) 5 reputed players (and 2 each in Mysore and Hubli-Dharwar), who will be required to bring in a fleet of a minimum 500 buses into operation (within 6 months of being awarded the license), and who will then compete with each other as well as the BMTC (or respective city govt operator) on a level playing field, subject to concessions noted below.

There's no denying the fact that a powerful regualatory body needs to be in place simultaneously with the opening out to the private sector. The fact of the matter is also that unless that happens, Corporates like TVS will not even want to look at the business opportunity. And, without the participation of the likes of TVS, the ultimate purpose will also not be served.

So, there are no two opinions here. A powerful regulatory body is a necessary pre-requisite.  

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
silkboard's picture

Meanwhile, one more pic

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Operating with pride, the maxi cabs of Bangalore. I am tempted to go to RTO and find out details of this vehicle, pollution certificate, fitness certificate, allowed carrying capacity etc. But read Murali's post above. you don't want to mess with the real owners of these vehicles.

BTw, our friend pays the cops as well, there are a few "collection" points in Bangalore where they part with Rs 50 one or more times a day.

Bangalore maxi cab

silkboard's picture

detailed take on BMTC routing

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BTW, lets write detailed post on BMTC's routing on this Gyan page:

http://praja.in/gyan/bmtc...

Any Praja member should be able to edit this page, so feel free. To begin with, we can copy and move material from our discussion on routing in the past. Srivathsa, Tarle, Murali had discussed grid/matrix/hub-spoke etc in in various posts.

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