A petition on Change.org, that demands the increasing of non-AC buses on ITPL-Majestic route (335 AA or 335E) to at least 25, has garnered more than 400 supporters. This only highlights citizens’ demand for an increase in the number of non-AC buses on the ITPL-Majestic route that goes through Kundalahalli gate, near Whitefield, Bengaluru.
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The petition that has been initiated by Naveen Kumar Dahiya, a project engineer with an automobile company, states that the number of non-AC buses plying on this route is woefully inadequate. As there is a sizeable population that commutes daily via this route, it is necessary for BMTC to increase the number of non-AC buses.
The petition comes in the wake of an RTI filed by Naveen regarding the number of AC and non-AC buses on this route. BMTC responded to his RTI stating that there were presently 47 AC buses and 12 non-AC buses, and that these numbers were based on people’s requirements on the route.
Many citizens who have signed the petition have stated that travelling by non-AC buses works out more economical for them. Lohith K H, a commuter, says, “Government should give better service to public, I agree. But not only to upper class people.” Yet another commuter, Manoj Sharma, says: “Bangalore weather is usually very good and one can travel in Non-AC too. People should be given both the options. As we know AC bus fares are very high and travelling daily is not at all affordable.”
Regular commuters want more buses
In addition to the petition, Naveen also initiated a post-card campaign addressed to the BMTC MD, Dr Ekroop Caur. One postcard reads, “I urge you to increase the frequency of non-AC buses. It has been a difficult situation for people who are waiting for hours.” Yet another states, “Please provide more buses for ordinary people in this route and help middle class people.” More than 200 signatures were sought from students and residents of Kundalahalli Colony and Village, who are regular commuters on this route and were sent to the BMTC MD.
Several commuters also took to expressing their grievance on the BMTC portal, but were met with a standard response: “Your request will be examined at the time of next augmentation of schedule.” BMTC has not specified any timeline for action.
Fare three times high for AC buses!
Naveen says he initially started the campaign keeping in mind of the plight of students in the Government School near Manipal Hospital. The school in Kundalahalli Colony runs classes up to 5th grade only and the students therefore attend the school near Manipal Hospital. The bus pass they are given is valid only on the non-AC buses.
He then realised that this was an issue not only for the students, but for others too. He believes that an increase in number of non-AC buses would also help blue-collar employees working in ITPL, CMRIT college students, daily wage workers, and even poor people who are visiting Satya Sai and Vydehi Hospitals. He also adds, “Not all IT people are paid highly, and cannot afford to spend so much on daily commute.”
For commuters who have to travel daily on this route, the difference in fares between the two categories of buses is significant, in some cases almost triple. The fare from BEML Gate (Opposite Hypercity) to ITPL is Rs 17 on the non-AC buses and Rs 45 on the AC buses. A ride from Kundalahalli Colony costs Rs 20 on the non-AC bus and Rs 60 on the AC bus.
Less non-AC buses, more chaos
Safety also makes for a strong case in the appeal for more non-AC buses. Considering that fares on non-AC buses are cheaper, more citizens are bound to choose to travel on them. On the other hand, an inadequate number of buses, means that the ones that are there are bound to be crowded. In some case, commuters resort to hanging on the bus door which is left wide-open. A sudden brake or the slip of a hand, could lead to an unfortunate incident.
A crowded bus throws up a host of other problems, in addition to safety concerns. Many people do not prefer to get on a crowded bus, and therefore spend a lot of time waiting for the next bus, or be forced to get on a connecting bus, only to spend more time on commute. Women may prefer to wait for another bus, or even take a cab or a minibus to avoid the delay and inconvenience. Even for the children travelling to school, the commute is an uncomfortable affair, when the buses are overcrowded.
Collecting change from the conductor in a crowded bus is a challenging affair. There are enough cases of theft on crowded buses, to keep those carrying expensive accessories or money, off them.
BMTC MD needs proof and data
So far, the online petition has gathered just over 400 signatures. In addition, Naveen has also collected 1,200 signatures on a physical petition from commuters on the route. He hopes to collect 2,000 signatures in total before he approaches the BMTC MD.
Naveen says that the BMTC MD asked him to meet her with proof of the shortage of buses in Whitefield. This meeting is yet to happen, before which Naveen wants to garner the required data and support.
According to a news report, Caur was quoted as saying, “Our services are totally demand driven and we see that there is a good response for Volvo services in that sector. However, if we get more demand for ordinary services in that route, then we can consider it.”
Naveen adds, “Our plan is to keep the pressure on and constantly remind BMTC that something needs to do done to improve our situation. Our goal is two-fold: Firstly, we would like to see the number of non-AC buses increased to 25. Secondly, we want to know how BMTC ascertains the schedule of buses—we plan to file another RTI for this.”
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