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.
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!
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.