Sunday, February 14, 2010

Making bus travel cool once more

Making bus travel cool once more

Through the Bus Day campaign, the transport ministry is aiming to change the attitude of people towards public transport. State transport minister R Ashoka is planning more initiatives to change mindsets and get all sections of commuters to use public transport

Sindhu Murthy



No blame game please
Remember, 20 years ago, potential public transport commuters were let down because the government wasn't punctual in delivering. Safety, punctuality and the lack of assurance that passengers would get seats were serious issues. Unhappy women and senior citizens eventually decided to buy private vehicles, thereby changing their commuting styles. This has led to incurable traffic jams in the city today. I intend to bring these people back to using public transport. When the government fails to provide facilities, the public naturally changes its mode of transport, which results in vehicular traffic and subsequently increases pollution. However, now, the transport department provides all facilities — world-class bus stands, AC buses, seats for passengers, punctual Volvos and Atal Sariges too. Let's transfer a pollution-free, traffic-jam-free Bangalore to our future generations.

Value for time

People waiting at bus stands are not informed of the causes for the delay of buses or their cancellation. To address this, in association with the World Bank, we will introduce intelligent transport system. Electronic display boards in bus stands will provide minute-to-minute updates on the status of plying buses. We are rectifying mistakes. We're changing the mindset of commuters.

Sustenance, a challenge
Sustaining Bus Day is crucial. Last month, we identified four routes to ITPL and plied 150 buses. We had even campaigned for a week and had interacted with IT professionals. We measured pollution levels before and after the campaign and compared them. There was visible reduction in pollution levels. Subsequent Bus Day campaigns, will be extended to educational institutions too. We will cater to all sections gradually and increase the frequency of Bus Days. We are ready to drop passengers inside the IT campuses if we get permission. We will consistently increase the area coverage and the number of buses with every Bus Day, not confining them to only Volvo. Encouragingly enough, the pollution board's analyses prove that with the introduction of Volvo AC buses, vehicular pollution or its impact on global warming has reduced by almost 80%; one AC Volvo bus would be replacing about 50 cars.

Curbing 'bad' behaviour
If you complain about the bad conduct of bus drivers, conductors and auto drivers, we have only ourselves to blame. We impart training to doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers and technical professionals but have we imparted any formal training to transport employees? Why is the transport department neglected although this has provided maximum employment in the country? Why then should they behave well with you? In Hassan, we will impart physical and educational training to transport department employees for two days. We plan to tie up with Maruti to train drivers. Drivers and conductors of Volvo buses that ply to the airport, for instance, display impressive etiquette. This is because we are offering them incentives, which make them feel they are an important part of the department.

Incentives to opt for bus
We will introduce mandatory disciplinary practices. For instance, buses should stop exclusively at bus bays only. We will gradually introduce even e-ticketing but people learn how to use technology. We will also introduce integrated ticketing for BMTC and Metro. Bus stands will acquire world class status — they will be tidy, hygienic with sparkling clean rest rooms. But remember, public transport may not be useful to those who want to urgently reach a particular place. It is useful to those who travel regularly by the same route everyday, else private vehicles are preferable.

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