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Recycling of old stories - BMTC's way of remaining in the news

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Here's a peace of information for commuters who are used to that `blind wait' - without a clue on the arrival or departure schedule - for BMTC buses. Keonics in association with Siemens Information Systems is running a pilot project for BMTC to introduce global positioning system (GPS) devices on its fleet. Around 200 buses and 20 bus shelters are going to be part of the project, which will start in a few weeks.

For the full text that appeared in the TOI, click here

Perhaps to counter the periodic reports of accidents its buses are involved in, the BMTC appears to have deviced this strategy of keeping ready a bagful of stories to release to the press whenever required, irrespective of whether there's anything new to them or not. This particular story has been recycled several times already, and tragically so after its dumping the far more user-friendly and innovative "Yelli Iddira?" service, most unceremoniously.

The "Yelli Iddira?" service besides involved minimal costs to everyone concerned. Apparently, therein lay its problem. Moral of the story - if you want to do business with BMTC, package the deal into atleast some tens of crores, 'taking care' of all the 'stake-holders' concerned!

Muralidhar Rao


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BMTC believes in the ‘trial and error’ method before offering any facilities. But there is one problem. Its trials almost invariably end in error and rejection. In the last two years, the BMTC, under the leadership of transport minister R Ashok, has piloted several projects amid much fanfare. Unfortunately, many of these have either witnessed a slow demise or have remained in cold storage. Now, undeterred by the failure of its services, BMTC continues to offer novel facilities.

For the full report in the ToI, click here.

All these are essentially gimmickry to be seen as doing something, rather than well thought out plans to improve services. And, what happens to a useful services like YI is described in greater detail here


Muralidhar Rao
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gimmickry and racketeering

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BMTC has over the years launched several innovative initiatives, but many of these scarcely make it beyond print. Be it exclusive bus services to malls, mobile restaurants or WiFi facility in Volvo buses, the transport utility has a lot of catching up to do on its own promises.

Express looked at a slew of ambitious projects launched by BMTC only to discover that most of them never took off. Many bus passengers complain that most of BMTC’s promises, including CCTV cameras in all buses and smart cards for tickeless transactions, are yet to take off.

- - - “Most of these initiatives look good on paper, but they are not practical. Most innovative schemes don’t get carried forward once the official, who initiated the project, gets transferred to another department,” said a BMTC official.

- - - H V Anantha Subba Rao, leader of Transport Workers’ Union, said, “BMTC comes up with these fancy initiatives to get the ‘first of its kind in the country’ tag and to get awards. This will neither help bus commuters nor the corporation in the long run. BMTC officials never consult its employees before launching projects. If they want to be in the news, then they should start improving its existing services.”

For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the New Indian Express, click here.

Yes, quite as the union leader has himself stated, most of these are plain gimmickry to gain some publicity mileage, following which, they are quietly dumped. But, many of them are also rackets, more specifically the Rs 79 cr "Intelligent Transport System" (check here), which, after its so-called launch in May this year, when it was still far from operational, is apparently still a work in progress.

All in all, quite like most PSU's, BMTC too largely serves the mafia confederation in charge of it, headed of course by a politico, far more than the commuting public (check here). And, the only way out is opening up the service to competition from reputed private operators, as brought out here.

Muralidhar Rao
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Bogus awards

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This past Saturday, it arose my curiosity to find mentions of both BMTC and KSRTC winning some SKOCH awards, in the New Indian Express (here & here), as also in other newspapers.

Now, news of them winning awards, particularly from ASRTU (Association of State Road Transport Undertakings), is nothing new. Like I have stated earlier too, it's a matter of "andhoan mein kaanaa raaja", as the saying goes in Hindi, clearly indicating how badly off the rest of the lot are. And, however much BMTC and KSRTC may claim to have improved their services, they are still a far cry from what is needed for a city whose entrepreneurs today provide services and manufacture products that are comparable to the best in the world.

So, I went on to search what this SKOCH was all about. Well, they have a web-site (accessible here), and they claim to be doing all kinds of things. And, SKOCH apparently has been derived from the name "Sameer Kochhar", the founder and all-in-all of this set up.

This reminded me of the times, when, running my own manufacturing unit, I used to be repeatedly nominated as 'udyog-pati'(or, similar fancy titles), by organisations quite similar to our friend, Kochhar's, the difference being that they were then headed by Congress minions, like Buta Singh, as compared to Kochhar saheb, who's apparently tied to the BJP. Whether I responded or not, I would then be invited to receive the award at the hands of none less than the President of India (Zail Singh types) at 'glittering' award functions, usually at Hotel Ashok, Delhi, for which they used to levy a 'nominal' Rs 25 K (supposedly to defray the expenses). Though plainly a money-making racket, there being enough takers for these 'awards'(which they would then flaunt, largely in social circles, perhaps to get an 'elite' bride for their sons), it was seen as a cushy arrangement between the lot, not of much harm to the society, in general. The genuine industry saw through all of these gimmicks, and generally kept these organisations at arm's length.

BMTC and KSRTC flaunting the SKOCH awards (actually, the higher officials are quite reticent about it all) doesn't say much for them. If you look at each of the criterion for which they have supposedly been bestowed the awards, it is very clear that they are undeserving by all reckonings, Praja itself having analysed their performances by most of them.

It is quite sad that they have to carry on this way. Competition would do well for them, the commuters, as well as the city. It's high time the government acted to help them out of the mess they are in. But, since the government won't do it, it's time the Civil Society demanded it.

Muralidhar Rao
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more aspirants for Limca awards

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Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), which has so far received 165 international and national awards for its initiatives, has now entered the Limca Book of Records.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Transport Minister R Ramalinga Reddy said, “This is the first time a state transport corporation in the country has entered the Limca Book of Records”.

For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the New Indian Express, click here.

Big deal, this!!! Firstly, they have a near monopoly in the whole of the state (except in Udupi and a few other districts) in regular bus services, termed Stage Carriage services. All private operations are licensed under Contract Carriage Act (check here for the different classifications), which imposes all kinds of regressive restrictions on them (which has kept the reputed business houses out of the field in spite of the huge opportunity it presents), which the babudom then uses to milk them in various ways, about some of which can be read in the debate in the earlier linked blog, and more here.

Yes, it needs to be recognised that they are perhaps the best amongst all the bus Transport Corporations in the country. But then, it is plainly a matter of "andhoan mein kaanaa raaja", as the saying goes in Hindi, quite clearly showing how badly off the rest of the lot are. And, that's how they keep winning the ASRTU (Association of State Road Transport Undertakings) awards, year after year. Many of the other awards are plain bogus ones, as pointed out in my post of 20th Dec (scroll above to read).

Further, I'll reiterate, that, while they may be best compared to those from other states, their services are still a far cry from what is needed for a city/ state whose entrepreneurs today provide services and manufacture products that are comparable to the best in the world.

Further, when operating in a monopoly area, you are number one in every aspect, including the number of accidents your buses are involved in (very often with fatalities), cancellations, strikes/ disruptions, and what have you. Does Limca want to recognise these "achievements" too? Likewise, does Limca want to recoginise BESCOM for all of its "achievements" in its monopoly field of power distribution, and BWSSB in its field of water supply?

Very plainly, all of these gimmicks are part of a last ditch effort on the part of the "Transport mafia confederation" (it's nothing less than that) to try and avoid implemetation of the provisions of the Road Transport and Safety Bill 2015 (check here), which, when approved by the Parliament, will compel the RTCs to compete with private operators, and thereby weaken the grip of the mafia confederation. The citizens need to wake up and counter them effectively if we are to find sustainable solutions to the multitudinous problems in all of these vital infrastructure areas.

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