On the fourth of every month I need to commute from north to south Bengaluru, to unlock my gate for the BESCOM meter reader and collect my monthly bill. The fourth of each month also happens to be designated as bus day by BMTC to encourage citizens to take to public transport to ease traffic snarls on our jam-packed roads. Although I know the rationale underlying the bus day initiative, this is why we commuters abhor bus rides.
1) We waste time, lots of it, and today time is precious. Just covering 14 km, from Sanjaynagar in the north to Jayanagar in the south, takes an hour and a half (sometimes more) by any mode (auto or taxi). By bus, additional time is wasted because buses observe no time schedules; some days the bus I need doesn’t turn up for 40 minutes, other days three buses of the same number draw up together. Lack of time schedules is by far the biggest drawback. Blaming the traffic is not an acceptable excuse – other cities manage, by studying time taken for each trip during typical rush hours, and framing timings accordingly.
2) Buses do not halt at designated stops; if two buses arrive together, they don’t wait in line, but stop parallely, causing those wanting to board the farther bus, to scurry across traffic, facing the danger of being knocked down by autos and two wheelers overtaking on the wrong side. For the elderly, such scurrying becomes nasty.
3) At Majestic, it often takes a bus 15 to 20 minutes just to get from the entrance to the terminus, to its bay, or to get from the exit on to the road (while getting out) . Last Tuesday, I counted 15 buses lined up along the periphery, waiting to turn into the terminus. After a 40 minute commute getting from my stop to Majestic, a further 15 minute delay in getting off because the bus has to wait to get in, is maddening. This happens at Shivaji Nagar terminus also.
4) Buses on special routes (like 364E , 279T or 279H) have no fixed timings, so those wanting these buses (because they can travel without changing buses en route) have no way of knowing whether to wait or not; it becomes a vicious circle – because commuters don’t wait and prefer to take two alternative buses instead , there is no ‘collection’, and because there is no collection, routes get cancelled. Why can’t we have time table schedules at least at terminal points? Traffic is not the problem, lack of accountability is the problem.
5) Steps on some buses are so high that it is difficult for the elderly to board. And drivers are not always sympathetic to those who are slow. Many of the new shelters built recently are also poorly designed – they are on a raised level, making it difficult to climb up and down.
6) Of late, bus numbers seem to be missing, or the boards are not displayed properly. I have seen buses with one number displayed in front and a different one at the back. Often, after dusk, there is no proper light to show the route number. This shows BMTC’s callousness towards the commuting public.
7) At Shivaji Nagar and Jayanagar terminus, when two or three buses draw up together, the ones at the back do not bother to wait for commuters to board at the designated platform, but push off as soon as some have got on before the bus has reached its bay. This is unfair to those who cannot scurry.
8) Buses headed south via Geddalahalli or Ashwatnagar, invariably wait for a few minutes at these stops, to increase ‘collection’. For commuters who are headed for work or college/school, especially in the mornings (7.30 am to 9.30 am), wasting time sitting in the bus, causes irritation, frustration and tension. Repeated complaints to the BBMP have brought only routine PR replies. Nothing changes. Arguing with drivers only generates abuse.
9) Buses skip stops with impunity, even change routes to avoid traffic (this happens often at Central, on the way to Majestic), and conductors merely tell commuters who need to get off, to walk after they are dropped off arbitrarily.
10) Bus interiors are dirty, with window glasses crusted with dust and stains. During the rains, seats often get wet, maintenance is neglected.
11) And finally, why isn’t a queue system introduced? It is a free for all at each stop. The Japanese stand in orderly queues, even if there are a hundred people waiting. Having to jostle one’s way in, puts off many potential commuters. If we can queue up at airport check-in and immigration, why not at bus stops?