Where are the Volvos?
When the first Volvo B7RLE rolled on to the streets of Bangalore in January 2006, the city - and the local transport provider, Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation - took pride in being the premiers in providing such advanced modes of transportation. Today, the city leads in the number of Volvo buses being used for urban transportation, with over 340 Volvo buses on the roads.
While this passenger friendly move of BMTC has to be appreciated, the corporation falls flat when it comes to complete - and proper - implementation. Most of these volvo buses begin their first trips from the city not before 0700~0800, and invariably finish their last trips by 1800~2000. And, to add salt to the injury, the buses run opposite to the direction of passenger density on many routes.
Take for example the case of Route number 365. About 11 buses are operated on this route (and its sub-routes 365B and 365J). This route originates at Kempegowda Bus Station and terminates at Bannerghatta National Park (Gottigere in case of 365B, and Jigani in case of 365J). The main crowd density is from Corporation Circle/Shanti Nagar Bus Station to BTM Check Post/Bilekahalli/Arakere/Hulimavu. The first bus on this route runs from Jigani to KBS (on 365J). This bus is infamous for its pathetic punctuality - the bus could land up upto 15 minutes late during its very first trip.
The service on this route is even pathetic during evening hours. One bus crosses Shanti Nagar Bus Station (henceforth referred to as SNBS) between 1755~1810. If one misses this bus, the next one comes only at 1905~1915. And the one after that is at 1930 and the last one somewhere around 1945~2000. The last two buses are unreliable, and on many occasions they never turn up. The frequency of other buses heading towards Bannerghatta Road, from SNBS during evening hours is even more pathetic.
Take for example, the case today. I was at the bus station right from 1810 till this particular volvo came (today at 1915). The bus today was KA01-FA-1744 of Depot 13 (Kathriguppe). During the 65 minutes I remained at the bus station, just two Suvarnas (on 365J), one Parisara Vahini (on 365D) and one Ordinary (on 369D) went through the bus station heading towards Bannerghatta Road - that is just 4 buses in a span of about 65 minutes!
The passenger density towards Bannerghatta Road is predominantly the working class - Office goers and daily wage workers - and their main mode of transport is BMTC buses. Running just 4 buses in a span of 65 minutes at the peak of evening traffic is absolutely unacceptable. Even more horrible is the fact that there were NO buses towards Bannerghatta Road between 1840 and 1915. Two buses came together at 1915 - one empty bus from the Depot (this one worked 366E to Jigani) and one Volvo towards Bannerghatta (the one mentioned earlier in this post). The Volvo bus had atleast 120 passengers in it (Against its official capacity of only 70 passengers). There was absolutely no space to move around, and the conductor immediately asked the driver not to open the door for more passengers - I could understand his helplessness. The door couldn't close if all passengers were in, and there was little space for more pax to join us.
What was the condition inside the bus, could well be imagined:
During my 65 minute wait for this bus at the bus station, three Volvos headed off to Narayana Hrudalaya (Route #356N), two to Electronic City (Route #356C), one to HSR Layout (Returning to depot), and two working "Blue" line service.
This was not my first experience waiting this long for a bus - the evening peak hour service leaves a lot to be desired. Its high time the BMTC pulls up its socks and get into serious business. 90 percent of BMTC buses are timed to the convenience of its operating staff - with buses coming out of the depot only by 0700~0800, and returning back to the depot by 1700~1900. This is absolutely unacceptable - these buses are intended for passengers to use them for their daily commute. It is no wonder that the number of cars on Bangalore's roads are raising by the day, and the number of passenger shunning these inefficient buses are also increasing by the day.
Not an isolated case: The number of Volvos reduce exponentially on Sundays and other Holidays. The BMTC on one hand announced concession fares for passengers on holidays, and on the other hand it reduced the number of services! What kind of logic is this? I feel it is unfair to take for granted that the number of passengers on sundays are less - with MNCs and BPOs working on all the seven days of the week, there are bound to be as much passengers on Sundays as other days. The number of people going out for some shopping or some sightseeing is very high on Sundays - these population should be incentivised to travel by bus, rather than forcing them to pull out their own vehicles. When is the BMTC waking up?
I am a fan of public transport, please don't force me to turn to the other side :(