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Minibuses for better area coverage

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BusPublic Transport

The following request has been forwarded to BMTC to consider operation of minibuses :


Dear Sir,

Re: Mini-buses on much larger scale as part of BMTC's fleet
a) For helping address last mile options, which has remained a major problem for bus users;
b) For areas /routes where passenger traffic is not high enough to justify standard size buses;
c) For areas with narrow roads that standard buses cannot reach as efficiently;
d) For feeder services for Metro, particularly late night /off-peak when volumes are lesser.

BMTC has made substantial additions to the bus fleet to cope with the increasing transport demands, which is laudable. However, most of these additions have been standard-sized buses.

BMTC's trials with shuttle services are probably not very successful because only large capacity standard sized buses are used & the few larger Swaraj Mazda minibuses used also have limited access in reaching interior /residential /congested areas. Thus, their routing is not very much different from the regular standard sized buses. In any case, volumes are expected to be much lower in most areas that generally qualify for shuttle services.

With auto-rickshaw fares spiraling out of control, there is a pressing need for public transport to penetrate further into the interiors of residential /congested areas much more frequently. Thus, it is suggested that BMTC acquires & operates smaller minibuses on a much larger scale. Routes, times & schedules may be determined with experience in operation of such smaller minibuses.

Though costs of operation per person per km may be on the high side since volumes will be low, Mini-buses (typically with capacity between 12 & 18) would offer a far more efficient solution to provide frequent services where larger /standard size buses might not be financially viable or would find it difficult to operate. Due to the diverse & extensive network of routes possible, viability may never be a problem.

For example, Hongkong has over 4000 minibuses operated privately. Though these are unscheduled services with no fixed tariffs, it is still one of the most popular modes of transport in that city.

Since operational distances would be shorter, a fixed tariff (say, Rs.8/-) could be charged. This will help operate Minibuses without conductors. Electronic fare collection with fixed machines upon entry by passengers can be planned for efficient operation & to plug revenue leakages.

I request you to please consider this suggestion since there is a genuine, long felt need for it, that has remained unaddressed.

Thanking You for your kind attention,
Sincerely Your's,



pathykv's picture


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I fully agree, but for the Rs.8 which can be Rs.5.


Naveen's picture

Minibus fares

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Mr Pathy,

Rs.5/- might seem okay with large buses, if they have sufficient passenger volumes, but I doubt if minibuses with fixed schedules /routes can operate with fares similar to large buses since volumes are expected to be low.

ashok_n's picture

Mini Buses

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>> For areas with narrow roads that standard buses cannot reach as efficiently;

Yes, this is a big problem. It is a sad sight to see hapless BMTC drivers trying to maneouvre big buses thru small streets. It should be the most stressful job in Bangalore.

Why restrict to mini-buses?? Why not six-seaters (of the Tata Ace Magic type) or 8-10 seaters ( Tata Winger type) vehicles. I am sure it will be profitable to run a 6 seater with fare of rs. 5/- per passenger.

Back of the envelope calculations:

One-way route distance : 3 km

One-way time taken : 10 mins

Revenue per trip : 6 passengers * rs 5 = Rs 30/-

Total trips per day ( 12 hour shift ) = 72

Revenue per day = 72 * 30 = rs 2160



Diesel Cost per trip : Rs 4 * 3 km = Rs. 12 ( assuming 10 kmpl mileage).

EMI for vehicle = Rs. 9000 per month = rs 300/- per day.

Costs per day = 300 + 12*72 = 1164.


So if my assumptions are right there is a profit of Rs. 1000/- per day. The profits can easily be increased by running the vehicle for 16 hours instead of 12. And maybe charging double between 10 pm and 6 a.m.  Is there a business case (for private operators) ?

pathykv's picture

Minibus fares

281 users have liked.

In Tamilnadu the minibus fares(operated by private players) are less than standard bus fares(which are also less than Karnataka bus fares) and the minibuses alwys run full.


Naveen's picture

ashok_n, Your calculation

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Your calculation assumes distance as 3km. It is more likely to be 5km or more if the services have to operate between two arterial roads (upto convenient bus stops at each end where large buses ply frequently).

Another assumption you made is that the vans /minibuses operate full all the time with little time allowed for stops. 3km in 10min is doubtful in peak hours. I think they are more likely to complete one round trip (abt 10-12km) in about 40-45 mins, including stops /breaks at terminals. Driver salary has also not been included.

Revised calculation :

One-way route distance: 5 km
One-way time taken: 20 mins
Revenue per trip: 4 passengers * rs 5 = Rs 20/- (assuming avg 67% occupancy)
Total trips per day ( 12 hour shift ) = 36
Revenue per day = 36 * 20 = rs 720


Diesel cost per trip : Rs 4 * 5 km = Rs. 20 (10 kmpl mileage).

EMI for vehicle = Rs.9000 per month = rs 300/- per day.

Driver salary @ Rs.9000 per month (incldg benefits) = 300/- per day.

Costs per day = 300 + 300 + 20*36 = Rs.1320/-.

Hence, subsidy might be necessary if reliable services have to operate based on schedules even during off-peak times. Even if the fare is 9 rs, the service would lose money (at 10rs, it would earn just 120/- profit per day), but as vehicle size increases, fares can be lowered, but I doubt if minibus fares can be as kept as low as 5/- (if quality of service has to be maintained).

rs's picture

In fact I was thinking along

234 users have liked.

In fact I was thinking along the same lines. For example, in Malleswaram, one of the disincentives for taking the bus is that one has to walk to Margosa or Sampige roads, and this is not so convenient for people living around 11th Main, for example.

What could be implemented is a short loop bus which goes from 11th Main &  Sampige Road, to 18th Cross, up 17th Cross to 8th Main - then on to 11th Main and back. And perhaps a second bus going to Yeswantpur Circle bus stand and IISc etc.

A large number of people would be benefited by such a service. People going to the Market as well as to the Mall.

On the other hand, if money is spent on making better footpaths and junctions, this local bus service will become redundant.


ashok_n's picture

Further Calculations

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Hello Naveen,

3 km is okay. I am thinking mostly of connecting to a single arterial road rather than two arterial roads.

For e.g if you consider Bannerghatta Road (beyond Jayadeva Hospital) and Hosur Road, these two run slightly parallel with a distance of about 4-5 kms between them. Right now the connectivity from the areas between them (for .e.g Vijaya bank layout, Arekere) to either of these roads is poor.  (In real estate parlance these areas are off-Bannerghatta road ;-) ). Similar is the case with Banneghatta road and Kanakapura road.

3 kms in 10 mins is possible, considering these will be signal less roads and are more smaller and more maneouvrable vehicles.

I intentionally did not calculate drivers salary as drivers can be made owners as part of Self-employment schemes/ loan schemes.

Let the government try these private operators.Of course, the government should enforce some rules:

a. Routes can be decided by the private operators. Auctions if there are more than one operator for a particular route.

b. No route clash for more than 20% of the distance between two operators.

c. Not more than 20% of the route can be on a main road (which are anyway well catered to by BMTC).

d. Vehicles should be from 3-4 types ( pre-decided by the government ) with stringent safety and other norms (for e.g BS IV compliance).

e. Safety (for .eg. Speed governors, GPS) can be installed during manufacturing.

If these services are not profitable for the operator, then it is no loss to the government or the public (since we do not have these services now anyway).

rackstar's picture

fixed slabs

287 users have liked.

we can have few slabs if not single rate. namely, 5, 10 or 15 rupees, instead of 8 rs flat. no intermediate priced tickets.

Naveen's picture

Scheduled services better

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Hello ashok_n,

single arterial road rather than two arterial roads

Main roads in south bangalore may not be the best examples to plan these services for the city. Generally, most areas would yield to routing to connect two arterial roads. For best passenger potential & to facilitate easy movement for commuters, routes need to cover far into the interiors as also provide options both ways for commuters.

the government should enforce some rules

This has already been discussed previously in various threads.

The govt /traffic police have not been able to handle & deal with the auto unions & autos charge whatever they think is appropriate & also decide if they want to go or not. This being the case, how can enforcement be expected to be any better when it involves private vans or minibuses ?

Such private vans or minibuses might promise to stick to routes /schedules /fares, etc, but might operate in whatever manner suits them best to maximize profit. For eg. they might not operate during off-peak hours since loads might be poor, they might demand higher fares since there are too few passengers on lean trips, they might not spend to maintain their vehicles, they might violate route restrictions & start operating elsewhere, incldg BMTC bus routes, etc. This is generally how they operate in Chennai. All this will cause lot of inconvenience to commuters, similar to autos, not to mention the chronic problem of unions.

Traffic police cannot be expected to monitor every van /minibus, & with the limitations in the present monitoring system, the private operators will end up being no better than the autos.

BMTC operating minibuses might be the best since they are better suited to plan routes that connect with larger buses efficiently. What we need are services that operate all through the day on pre-determined routes /schedules & with fixed fares. This might need some subsidies at first, but once the services pick up, it might recover operational costs after a period whilst helping bus commuters with reliable fixed fare /fixed time services. Autos might also be forced to fall in line due to the competition from these subsidized public services.

murali772's picture

High Court lending support?

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The Karnataka High Court on Monday directed the state government to constitute an expert committee to look into the feasibility of implementing the BMTC feeder bus service.

While hearing the public interest litigation filed by N Parameswaran, a retired employee of HAL, Chief Justice J S Khehar directed the government to constitute an expert committee consisting of one technical expert to examine the possibility of adopting the service in the city. The report should be submitted within four weeks to the court, the bench stated.

The petitioner had submitted that he had designed a comprehensive feeder bus service system in the city and as planned, commuters would get three to four buses to reach the destination. The petitioner argued that with this service commuters could reach their destination without changing buses. "The feeder bus service will provide frequent services to commuters and 50 feeder roads and 50 trunk roads are enough to implement this project," he argued.

For the full report in the New Indian Express, click here

May be this team should set up a dialogue with the die-hard Mr Parameswaran, and check on the feasibility of his scheme, if its decision is to continue with the monopoly BMTC, which is where I differ.

Muralidhar Rao
idontspam's picture


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The petitioner argued that with this service commuters could reach their destination without changing buses. "The feeder bus service will provide frequent services to commuters and 50 feeder roads and 50 trunk roads are enough to implement this project,"

I am sceptical of the above claims. If both O & D isnt on the trunk route at a bare minimum one will have to change from feeder to a trunk route at both ends. But I havent seen his plans so...

srinidhi's picture

does it gel with th BPS plan?

257 users have liked.

I think the 'trunk' routes he talks about is the same/similar as the Bus Priority System pilot routes that is being discussed here on Praja..

There is a need for some 'normalization' in the number of buses which will ply on the BPS to optimize on usage and frequency..for example this will hopefully avoid two or more 335E's tailing eachother almost empty..

Interesting to see if we can get Mr Parameswaran into discussions here..

idontspam's picture

Bus priority is a traffic

265 users have liked.

Bus priority is a traffic management issue. Grid & normalization are routing issues. Not the same. You can have any type of trunk bus running on priority system, whether they are optimized or not. Optimization will give efficiency in ops to do more with less. Priority will give you increased throughput on the corridor. They ideally should complement each other.

Naveen's picture

Mr Parameswaran's plans

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I havent seen his plans

His plans are here - you can evaluate them!

silkboard's picture

Mr Param.'s route plan, here

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including his route plan image here:

silkboard's picture

In above, if you join c1/c2/c3 ...

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If you join points c1/c2/c3 and imagine an inner circle, and then look at radial matrix plan, which is sort of being follow via Big10 corridors, you find similarities (just that feeders are missing).

Also see the routing theory from old CCTF report.

There are more sketches from past discussions etc. The point is, there is no such thing as the best routing proposal. All are good enough. Just that whatever they implement, should be followed through to completion. Put feeder routes, merge existing routes in the radial corridor based thing which is already underway, we will do good enough and fine.

Naveen's picture

Combine systems ?

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there is no such thing as the best routing proposal. All are good enough

Quite true. Any system can work well. It's just that the number of routes need to be reduced, though no 'optimum' can be defined.

However, one point to ponder over what Mr Parmeswaran has been proposing... When there are sufficient volumes, say for eg. from Banashankari all the way to ITPL to provide through routes, why should commuters be inconvenienced & have to make two changes to reach their destination ?

Perhaps a combination of systems is what can work best, but then the number of routes will also increase.

Transmogrifier's picture

The empty 335E phenomenon

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this will hopefully avoid two or more 335E's tailing eachother almost empty..

Here's an elegant demonstration of how the empty bus phenomenon (offically termed positive feedback) develops.



Vasanth's picture

Buses will be empty in one direction mostly

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Buses travelling towards CBD and offices is crowded in the direction in the mornings and in the evenings it is other way around. Otherwise, it is not possible to get the buses to the other end.

For that, we need to have offices in both the directions. V505 which connects ITPL to EC is one such intelligent route.

BMTC could do something like Peak Hour and Non-Peak hour charges so that ordinary bus commuters can take up Volvos during non-peak hours. Earlier it was there, I don't think it is present now.

Vasanth's picture

Connecting TTMCs using Mini buses

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Earlier I had posted one of this:

Minibuses are well suited for this. If we could have A/C minibuses, it would be even better.

rackstar's picture

bmtc route map

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One route map of all bmtc routes required. All roads yellow like google maps, all bmtc routes say blue. So that we will get idea which area in bangalore is not covered. We can take google map screenshot as base. This will give better idea where we cannot catch a bus by walk.

Here is an old

srinidhi's picture

7 empty 335E!!

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 Yes I saw 7 empty 335E's at about 11 AM today at the Victoria road signal which were coming into Richmond road..

..and the ironic situation was that there were passengers at the victoria road stop trying to flag one 335E going towards HAL and he didnt stop..simply cos he was about to miss a signal!

There is some major issues with routing here!

This is really crazy..

rackstar's picture

tickets for rs 5 or 10 or 15

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minibuses without conductors is good idea, it is difficult to employ double the people.

but to ease the driver from ticketing and giving change it is better to make ticket price multiple of 5 so that giving change is easy. it is similar to tickets in volvo, but 5 rs or 10 rs should go much longer distance than volvo would go.

rackstar's picture

doors not close to driver

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for minibuses doors are far behind unlike most big buses where one door is ahead of front wheel of the bus. this makes driver issuing tickets difficult and demands for a conductor. they can shift door a bit further but not much. there is no space ahead of front wheel.

image: bangalore mirror


Naveen's picture

Minibus Doors

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These buses have wide doors in the middle - not really suitable for driver-only operation. If the door is narrow (single entry) & positioned just behind the front wheel, the driver can easily keep an eye on the entry /exit of passengers & supervise ticket purchase by passengers from a dispensing machine placed on the left of the door at entrance.

rackstar's picture

wide doors fine

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Wide doors are ok if driver can close the door when he is not watching or he can even be given a mirror inside the bus. But doors have to be positioned in front immediately next to front wheel so that driver alone can manage things and no need of a conductor. But i am against the idea of ticket dispensing machine as current driver-cum-conductor method is working just fine. But this changing position of doors to front can be taken up with authorities? if this becomes success with existing minibuses then bmtc can procure more minibuses. comment guidelines

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