Friday, February 05, 2010

Lacking techie support, Bus Day is a big flop

Lacking techie support, Bus Day is a big flop
By: Chetan R Date: 2010-02-05 Place: Bangalore




Special services to IT corridors run almost Empty on maiden 'Bus Day' as most techies stick to cars, two-wheelers and traffic jams despite days of publicity

The first Bus Day yesterday turned out to be a big flop with the initiative getting a cold response from techies, vast numbers of whom the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) had hoped to attract with special buses between Majestic and the IT corridors of Electronics City and ITPL.


THE TYPICAL PICTURE: Most special bus services plied near-empty on Bus Day. PICS/VINOD KUMAR T


The BMTC claimed it a success at the end of the day, but a daylong reality check showed the maiden edition of the large-scale exercise, to be held on the fourth of every month, managed to attract only a few techies here and there.

The traffic jams remained in the Electronics City corridor as many buses ran near-empty, while car parking lots at IT companies were as full as ever.


SPOT THE TECHIE: In the buses that did achieve full occupancy, there were only five to six techies


Techies form a large part of the workforce in the city, and the Bus Day is an attempt to wean them from private vehicles for their daily commute to cut down on congestion and pollution. A host of IT companies had announced their support for the initiative and urged employees to take the bus for a safe and fatigue-free commute.

A quick round of questions on several buses throughout the day revealed that only about three or four passengers on the few buses that were full had left behind private vehicles in favour of public transport. On most special buses making the extra trips that were introduced to and from Electronics City for the day, occupancy was as low as five or six passengers.


ANYBODY READ THIS? A Bus Day poster at an IT company


"The turnout is not as expected," said H Anjaneya, a BMTC inspector. "Though we have got a bus once every five minutes, we don't have passengers in them. We are trying to find out the reason."

Unmet expectations

The intention was to attract techies from two major IT corridors, ITPL and Electronic City. The BMTC pressed into service more than 250 extra trips in both corridors with the aim of catering to over 30 per cent of the over 1.5 lakh employees in these two IT corridors. Instead of 45,000 IT professionals expected, BMTC had to remain content with about 5,000 on the special services.

In a full bus on the Electronic City stretch, typically only five to six were techies who had abandoned the car becasue of Bus Day.

"We have a lot many buses but no passengers. Most of the extra trips are running with less than 10 per cent occupancy," said Kullegowda, conductor of a BMTC bus plying from Corporation to Wipro. "We doubt if the message was conveyed properly to potential commuters as the occupancy is not better than any other day."

The White Field Saarige (WFS), or White Field Transport, launched by the BMTC to woo techies resulted in 10 additional buses from Marathalli to White Field, but a majority iof the buses to the IT hub hardly had any passengers.

Many drivers and conductors on the route said business was even dipped instead of going up, which may be attributed to the usual commuters spread across more buses because of the extra services.

In addition to this, 70 additional buses deployed from various places, including Majestic and Shivajinagar, to White Field had few takers on the first Bus Day. Most people on the buses were also not aware of Bus Day.

Parking lots full

The parking lots in Electronics City were packed as usual with four-and two-wheelers, and the traffic jams at Madivala in the morning and at Hosur road in the evening were as frustrating as ever. This was indirect evidence to corroborate the finding that the Bus Day was a failure.


FULL PARKING LOTS, NEAR-EMPTY BUSES: A parking lot of an IT firm packed with cars, while the bus did not get many techie takers


"The traffic was jam packed in the morning at Madivala," said Rajan, a cab driver, who commutes to Electronics City regularly. "Why would it happen if they had shifted to BMTC buses?"

Causes of failure

Besides the logistical element of possible improper distribution of buses in the two IT stretches, failure to publicise Bus Day is believed to have resulted in the poor techie turnout.

"Is today a Bus Day?" said a Wipro employee whop did not want to be named. "I didn't know. Also, it's very difficult to reach office in time from my place, which is far away. I have no choice but to take my two-wheeler."

At White Field, out of five people randomly picked and questioned, four did not know anything about Bus Day.

Assistant Traffic Inspector V Venkataraman said while lack of publicity was to blame for the poor response, it would get better with future Bus Days.

"Our first ambition is to cut down on private vehicles, then the traffic jams will go down," said Venkataraman.

Techies unhappy

A mail from one of Bus Day organisers to BMTC MD Syed Zameer Pasha revealed that techies had expressed their displeasure over the bus frequency. The mail saidmore buses were deployed to Electronics City while the demand was higher in ITPL. It also said that the frequency dropped after 9 am, ins pite of high 9-10 am demand. The mail also said techies doubted there would be services to take them home later in the day.

(With inputs from Manjunath L Hanji)

The Other Side
Grand success, says city bus service
"This (Bus Day) is a huge success," said Syed Zameer Pasha, MD, BMTC. "We hope to have got over 25 per cent of those who travel in private vehicles to BMTC buses. The figures will be known shortly. But the change has begun and we hope to make a remarkable impact in the days ahead."


5
Average number of passengers on most special buses on Bus Day

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