The present state government has announced a series of measures to improve bus services – enhancing the bus fleet, reducing fares, introducing bus lanes and so on. The bus lanes have had a good start, but the other announcements are yet to be implemented.
We, at the advocacy group BBPV (Bangalore Bus Prayanikara Vedike), expect that the government will allot money to BMTC in the budget, so that that they can implement the announced decisions.
In the context of the upcoming budget, BBPV conducted a survey to reach out to people in the city (both bus commuters and non-bus commuters) and highlight their experiences and concerns, so that the budget can respond to common people’s needs.
The survey focused on drawing out the experiences of the working class in the city. BBPV members conducted the survey at bus stops, work places as well as among working class communities such as street vendors, domestic workers, pourakarmikas and garment workers. Overall, 95 respondents participated in the survey – 55.8% of them use bus for regular commute and 44.2% use other modes.
Here are the key insights from the survey:
- Eighty per cent of the bus commuters said they find bus fares too high; 41% of non-bus users said they will shift to the bus if fares are reduced.
- On average, bus commuters spend much higher than commuters who use other transport modes. Bus commuters spend 21% of their earnings on commute. Whereas users of other modes spend 9.5% of their earnings on commute.
- Key issues with bus commute highlighted by all respondents: High fares (60%), Lack of convenient routes (17.3%), Service frequency (16%) and Traffic (6.7%).
- Among the bus commuters, 72.1% use the bus because other options are more expensive or unavailable. Only 17.3% bus commuters use the bus because it is convenient. Other reasons for bus use include affordability and safety (5.8%) and suitability for long distance travel (3.8%).
(One aspect to be noted here is that, in Bengaluru, it is cheaper to use a two-wheeler than the bus. For instance, using a Honda Activa scooter will cost just Rs 2 per km, whereas 5 km in a BMTC bus costs Rs 14-17. Those who can afford to purchase a two-wheeler do so. However, many people cannot afford to buy a vehicle, and hence use the bus even though it’s costlier on a daily basis.)
The survey results once again highlight a few facts – that high fares are forcing bus users to shell out a large portion of their income on travel, thereby reducing the amount of money they have for education, health and other expenses. It also shows that if fares are reduced, two-wheeler users may shift to buses, reducing traffic congestion and pollution.
Find the complete survey details and results here.
We therefore urge the state government to
- Grant money to BMTC to purchase at least 3000 more buses this year and ensure that the fleet is doubled in two years.
- Set-up a fare stabilisation fund to help BMTC reduce fares significantly and to reduce the gap in operational expenses.
- Extend bus lanes to other high-density corridors.
- Ensure that routing and frequency is addressed through demand-mapping and discussions with commuters.
- Invite commuter groups for a discussion on the budget itself.
[This article is based on a press release from Bangalore Bus Prayanikara Vedike, and has been published with minimal edits.]