The tale of a corporation called BMTC...

The title is a kind of misnomer - it is not about one but many travels in one very inefficient transport system: The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation.This corporation - born out of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation some time during August 1997 (to be exact - on August 15, 1997) - is reportedly the biggest urban transport corporation in the country, operating about 4887 schedules deploying about 5071 buses!

This corporation was the first in the country to operate Volvo City buses (B7RLE model). It now operates about 154 such buses on city routes, and about 69 on airport routes (taking the total to a mind-boggling 223 buses - the aim is to have 340 buses by April 2009!!!). The conventional city Volvo buses are called Vajra Hi-Tech bus by the corporation. The airport bus initiative by the corporation (aptly named "Bangalore International Airport Service - or BIAS) is one of the most innovative, if i could say so, measures taken by a government run corporation. Notwithstanding the commercial motive behind the move, the service should be appreciated.

The corporation deploys 69 Volvo (called Vayu Vajra) buses in this route and a handful of non-AC "Suvarna" and "Parisara Vahini" buses. A few of these Suvarna services were recently curtailed by BMTC for the want of patronage with more passengers opting for the costly yet comfortable AC Volvo services.

This is a Vajra bus - working a Vayu Vajra schedule to the Airport - Route BIAS9

The Airport buses have a different fare structure compared to normal city buses. Their fares range from Rs 50 to Rs 100 (for Suvarna services) and from Rs. 100 to Rs. 200 for Volvo buses. They charge fare upto the airport from the pick-up point and have very limited halts. They also have a very impressive frequency and offers reservation too!

This is a regular city bus, called Parisara Vahini by the corporation

The commonest buses seen in the city are called Parisara Vahini by the corporation. They wear a "Blue-white" livery. The minimum fare charged is Rs. 3 and the maximum is around Rs. 28. Their services operate upto Hosakote on the East, close to Doddaballapur on the North, Neelamangala on the North west, Bidadi on the West, Jigani on the South and Attibele on the South East - a radius of about 50kms from the city. The longest route of the corporation is however about 100-odd kilometres in length - this a ring route, and runs along the periphery of the city.

This is a Pushpak Plus bus...

The Corporation offers another service called the Pushpak. Pushpaks (these days called as Pushpak plus) have a 2X3 seating pattern, and have only one door for entry/exit, unlike Parisara Vahinis which have 2. These services charge slightly more than ordinary buses, and usually do not have a conductor. The ticketing is done by the driver himself. These buses are rented out by BMTC to companies to ferry their staff.

The 2X3 seating pattern makes life miserable for standing passengers. These services initially had lesser number of stops. But these days, the stopping pattern is the same, but the fare is on the higher side!

The corporation has 31 depots in all to stable its predominantly Leyland fleet of buses. This is perhaps the only corporation in the south to run Eicher buses.

After a relatively long introduction, here is some bashing ::

Like the first paragraph of the post said, BMTC is among the most inefficient and passenger "un-friendly" transports corporations that I have come across. Although they offer concessions to daily passengers through their pass system, their overall services leave a lot to be desired. So logics that BMTC follows while operating their services:

1. Operate the maximum number of buses during off-peak hours and the least during peak hours. Say for example, a route has a peak hour frequency of 10 minutes and an off-peak frequency of 20 minutes - expect the exact opposite to happen! Some routes with maximum population depending routes have negligible buses operating in the peak hours - the Bannerghatta Road route(s) for example.

2. Operate Counductor-less services during peak hours, so that the maximum number of people are inconvenienced. These services have the driver issuing tickets himself. The driver has to take care of driving as well as booking passengers. As if all this was not enough, he has to take care of the accounting for the tickets too! All these works makes the driver drive slower, potentially making passengers reach their destination late!

3. Day-light robbery! The so-called Suvarna services charge one-and-half times the normal fares, providing absolutely no extra facility for the same. The only addition that you get is lesser crowd (due to higher fare), a badly designed bus with lesser (!!!) leg space and a smaller window which would successfully restrict the flow of air inwards!

4. Punctuality (???): Their buses make it a point to leave from the origin either 15 minutes early or atleast 10 minutes late! On some days, the buses never turn up!!! To the crew's advantage is the absence of traffic controllers at most of the terminuses used by them!

5. Cheating! This is nothing new in state-run corporations, but in BMTC it is taken to altogether a new level! Most Conductors never issue tickets for passengers traveling short distances. They will not bother even if you pay only Rs. 2 for a Rs 3 ticket - the money goes to his pocket! In fact, recently a media highlighted how BMTC conductors re-issue used daily passes to passengers!

Of course, these might resonate with some other cities too, but my earlier experiences were with Government run corporations in Mumbai (and its surroundings) which were much better than BMTC when it comes to their staff.

However, maintenance of their buses is top-notch. Absolutely no competition. They maintain buses properly and newer buses even sport metallic paint works! The corporation is the lifeline of the city. A bit more of planning and some more courteous staff would take it places. The corporation has a fairly up-to-date website (route information is a bit outdated, though). You can reach it here... (I've linked it to the English version - the site also has a Kannada section).

I have a frequently updated image bank of BMTC buses here... Note: In case you wish to re-use the images for any reason, please link back to its original page.


Unknown said…

I read your blog on BMTC and you missed one more mode of service called PASS BUS. These are Light Green colour buses exclusively for pass holders.

And regarding MSRTC they have total 2 service to Bangalore one is Bangalore- Mumbai at 16.00 and one more that is my favorite Bangalore-Osmanabad (Osmanabad district is near to Solapur in MH) it leaves around 18.00 and service is so excellant that it reaches Bijapur at morning 6.00 Am other buses which leaves around same time reach Bijapur around 8.00AM.
Binai K Sankar said…
Oh yeah! I managed to get details of the Osmanabad bus too - the bus leaves Bangalore at 1800... from Osmanabad - it leaves at 1500 and arrives BLR at 0805. I'll try to get pics soon...