Air-conditioned buses are for the young and affluent

Travel in air-conditioned (AC) buses in Bangalore reminds me of the early days of plane travel where the atmosphere was quite rarefied. People usually dressed for the occasion, prim and proper. The chatter of railway journeys was absent (even now it is the same).

As for the AC buses in Bangalore, it is not that people boarding these buses dress up for the occasion but it is just that normally they are better-dressed than the ones traveling in ordinary buses. The only sound you hear in AC buses is either that of the AC or the conductor! The AC buses also remind me of the first-class travel in Mumbai suburban trains. People are quite tight-lipped there too.

Anybody above the age of 40 would feel totally out of place in these buses. The peak hours are almost fully dominated by citizens of youngistan. One can count the people with white hair or no hair. Women usually occupy the front seats. This is a hangover from the days when they traveled in ordinary buses. There are no signs indicating that the seats are reserved for women. But they do feel that they have the first right on those seats. Even when the seats at the back are vacant, many of the women do not prefer to go there.

As for the elderly or the physically disabled, there are no separate seats for either. Also offering seats to the needy is not practiced in Bangalore, whether AC or no AC.

Also, only certain routes are covered by these buses. Most of them have destinations like Electronic City or ITPL or some such IT-haven. As for the fares, they were high but manageable a few months ago. The fact that fares have been increased substantially give further signal that it is especially the IT crowd that the authorities are after.

Thus, one cannot help feeling that the AC buses are essentially for the affluent (comparatively) and the young (comparatively). For others, there is always the older dabbas!

13 Comments

  1. Glad you liked the piece which was to hint at the divergence in the community. Bangalore has done better than before but all are not getting the benefit out of it. I am sure Hyderabad will also get better buses in time. Mumbai was the best, but its buses look kind of old fashioned now compared to the new buses in Bangalore.
    Thanks Vishwas for the response

  2. A Very perceptive and humorous write-up. The situation in Hyderabad is so much worse. The city has exactly 12 Volvo AC buses. And all the other buses are the true definition of Dabbas – they are as if old dabbas from Bangalore are painted mildly re-painted and re-introduced to the Hyd. All the buses are operated by APSRTC – no Hyderabad specific entity like BMTC. Bangalore has done a great job of using JNNURM money to add both AC and non-AC buses to the city.

  3. I dont agree the old ones look good . you have probably not traveled in some of those routes. Anyway, I have no problem with ‘ blue ones’. If the editors are monitoring these comments, they are welcome to change ‘ dabba’ into ‘ blue ones’

  4. even the old ones of Bangalore look quite good-since majority of ordinaries are blue we can call them the blue ones-there are very few AC ones in blues so blues should not be an improper one-blues sometimes gives blues!!

  5. Though i have not seen AC Suvarnas, I am not denying some improvements. Sir, Bus service has improved but do we remain satisfied with just few changes. Yes, thee are some sleek buses but plenty of old ones are also there. I gave some examples in the comments above. Just as our city is improving in some ways, one would like all sections of the society to share the pluses. I am also not happy with the word dabba and please suggest other apt names ( we can then request the editor to remove it). Sri Siddharth, thanks for the comment.

  6. I think the above concept of AC buses was kept in mind regarding the Volvo buses which are for affluent-BMTC has also run many Marcopolo AC’s(Marked AC suvarna) in many routes which arent mainly IT sector-the fare in such buses is 1 1/2 times normal and many people use these buses too!! Of course volvo were mainly targeted at reducing the cars and has marginally even done the same-many people in volvo are glued to the MP3 and the news papers-but the case in Marcopolo AC’s especially on 265,210A red board routes are quite different as these cater to residential areas and many areas not connected by volvoes

    Also please kindly change the word “dabba” for ordinary-ordinaries have transformed over time and the new ones look quite sleek and are comfortable for travel-also they must have space for more capacity compared to volvo and hence the rush and hustles will alsways be there in them

  7. Mohan, I am glad that you noticed the part about the AC bus passengers being rather glum. As you have written, most of them are glued to their MP3 players. Ladies more so . Even as such the IT people work in an environment which is much different. May be they will be more in tune with the life in the city if they observe life outside the windows ! thanks

  8. Gnana, Yes, I have also noticed that they keep charging different amounts in volvo buses for the same journey. It is quite confusing. May be one can write to the complaints department. thanks for the interest.

  9. very true Vishwanath avare some one needs to tell the IT guys to come out of those ear plugs and start talking… its good for them to relax after a stressful day…

  10. The volvo buses donot charge properly…they ask 25Rs one time and 30Rs at times…wat a system is this…are they cheating people like this? I dono where and to whom should i complaint. If so will they react to what we say?

  11. Thanks Vinay ! May be a modern city needs such buses !However the charges need to be decreased and the seats earmarked for the elderly etc.
    As a contrast one should travel in the buses which come from various suburban villages to the city market. I catch such buses occasionally in Madivala.The buses are very old and dirty. It is true that various things are brought from these villages but one could have proper luggage racks ( as one has for the airport buses !!! ) . The villages do not complain and things do not change

  12. nice post sir 🙂
    this of course in addition to the fact that with bmtc, the poor literally subsidise the rich! volvos are subsidised , but subsidies on ordinary tickets are cut when fuel fares are hiked since BMTC cannot have ‘losses’ !

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