Thursday, July 30, 2009

1FOR THE ROAD

1FOR THE ROAD
For more than 40 years, bus No 1 cut across the city from Yeshwantpur to Jayanagar 4th block. Now, after a three-year hiatus, the bus will be back from August 1, unleashing a flood of nostalgia
SUCHITH KIDIYOOR


No 1 is more than just a bus route. It is about memory. It’s about vintage Bangalore where business had still not elected itself the new culture. It was before migrants had flooded the city, people new even to themselves, their pasts locked away, and with no qualms about shifting allegiances and replacing loss.
In Route No 1’s heyday, in the eighties and early nineties, the city was routinely bivouac and not the crammed, claustrophic one it has become. Travelling by this route as it meandered past Malleswaram, Vidhana Soudha and Chamrajpet, office goers, students and travelling salesmen experienced the charm that follows slow unspooling, different neighbourhoods lending themselves to protracted and delightful discovery.
Then the BMTC suspended the route. But now, after a hiatus of three years, Route No 1 will be back on the roads from August 1. Of course, nostalgia had a large part in it as well: Commuters missed it sorely and wanted it back, and the BMTC has willingly obliged.
BANGALORE’S FIRST
For those who don’t know, or have forgotten, Route No 1 was the first route introduced in the citys transport system and plied to and from Yeshwantpur and Jayanagar fourth block, via Malleswaram, Seshadripuram, Shivananda circle, Vidhana Soudha, K R circle, Hudson Circle, K R Market, Chamarajpet, Basavanagudi and Jayanagar 4th block. It underwent many avatars, including a road train version, but continued to ply for decades. That’s until the service had to be withdrawn in 2006 once developmental works like construction of underpasses and flyovers undertaken by city civic bodies swamped the route.
It was a popular route among school and college students, office goers and traders. It connected the industrial suburb of Yeshwanthapur to Jayanagar passing through residential areas like Malleswaram, Seshadripuram, Mavalli and Basavanagudi.
OTHER HERO NO 1s
Route No 1s have always caught the fancy of commuters across the country. As these were one of the first buses to be introduced in the respective cities, they connected various far flung parts in several cities.
Hyderabad
Afzal Ganj to Secunderabad
Kolkata
Ramlal Bazar to BBD Bag (It is called ‘L1’ route)
Chennai
Tondiarpet to Triplicane
Mumbai
RC Church in Colaba to Byculla (It is called ‘N’ route)
Delhi
Kendriya terminal to Adarsh Nagar (100 is the first route as the bus numbers start from 100) FAVOURITE BUS
The bus was a favourite with students, since it connected the premiere and best colleges of the city, such as Indian Institute of Science, UVCE, Central College, Government Arts and Science College, SJ Polytechnic, Vijaya college, RV School, Malleshwaram Government junior college and MLA College.
It was a great hit among office goers too, especially state government employees, from these areas, since it passed through Vidhana Soudha and K R Circle area where a maximum number of state government offices are located. During peak hours, people struggled to get space on the footboard. For Vidhana Soudha goers, it was the preferred ‘vaahana’. As the bus used to travel next to Vidhana Soudha (the road was closed after construction of Vikasa Soudha) and for those Vidhana Soudha employees residing between Yeshwnathpur and Jayanagar fourth block, number one was part of office life. It was also children’s favourite bus. Those college students who were not familiar with bus routes were always curious about the first route of the city. Keerthi, a techie says, “When I started moving in the bus in seventh standard, I used to ask my dad to take me in bus number one once. Moreover it connected me to Makkala Koota, the children’s park.”
SPOKE IN THE WHEEL
But there came a time for the BMTC to shut it down. An official said, “It was inevitable for us to cancel the operations of the bus owing to the developmental works undertaken by civic bodies. But now all is okay. The underpass works near Maharani Circle and K R Circle have been completed and the route has been kept open for traffic. We have planned to reintroduce Route 1 with the operation of five buses.”
It is said that Route No 1 was operational when BMTC had only 400-500 buses a few decades ago. The cancellation of Route No 1 affected commuters from Vidhana Soudha, K R Market, Chamarajpet, Gandhi Bazaar and other prominent areas. BMTC officials however contend that the cancellation of the route’s operations did not affect commuters.”We are operating 5,000 odd buses within the city limits. The cancellation of Route No 1 did not affect any of the commuters. From Yeshwanthpur, buses ply every five minutes. To add to it, Route No 1 will re-start service from August 1. We will observe if there are enough commuters on the route or not. If the demand is sufficient, we are also ready to operate Volvo buses on Route No 1.”

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