Thursday, September 10, 2009

THE BMTC PARADOX

THE BMTC PARADOX
JNNURM buses offer a better ride, but fares are higher on Suvarna buses with their non-working fans
SUCHITH KIDIYOOR


Call it the heights of contradiction: Low fares for good buses and high fares for the not-so-great buses. Well, that is precisely what the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has subjected commuters to with its two recent fleets: JNNURM buses (blue-coloured) and Suvarna buses (silver-coloured).
Though the blue buses sponsored by the central government under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) have some sophisticated features like a semi low-floor body and snazzy interiors, the ticket rates in these buses are much lower than those in Suvarna buses (which are ranked by BMTC as the second-best after the highend Volvo Vajra fleet).
In fact, fares in these JNNURM buses are the same as those in BMTC’s ordinary fleet comprising blue-and-white buses. Passengers at various bus stops across the city are questioning BMTC’s logic. Nischith Hiremath, a marketing professional, said, “I have travelled in Suvarna buses and JNNURM buses, the latter are comfortable and lowpriced. Except for the tiny fans that are usually switched off, there is nothing that the Suvarna buses can boast about. Yet, BMTC collects more money from us in Suvarna buses which is unfair.”
In fact, the Suvarna fares had many people assuming that the tickets on JNNURM buses would also be high-priced, and avoiding them. Said Rukmini Prasad, a frequent commuter, “As the JNNURM buses looked better, I thought the fares in these buses were higher than Suvarna buses and so avoided boarding them” till she learnt otherwise. “Why can’t the fares in Suvarna buses be the same as that of JNNURM buses when the latter are superior in terms of passenger friendliness,” she asked.
However, a BMTC official explained, “The objective of JNNURM buses, which are funded by the Centre, is to ensure good service and affordable fares for commuters. Right now, there are about 60 JNNURM buses plying. Another 700 will be inducted by December-end.” On the issue of Suvarna fares, the official said that it was up to the transport minister to decide.
THE BLUE ADVANTAGE
JNNURM buses are more passengerfriendly as they are semi low-floor buses with a height of 850-900 mm when compared to the Suvarna buses which have a floor height of 1,200 mm. This helps the elderly and disabled commuters to easily board the buses.

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