Thursday, January 29, 2009

Where have the ordinary buses gone?

Where have the ordinary buses gone?

Anil Kumar Sastry

— Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

Obstruction: Vajra and Suvarna buses lined up at the BMTC terminal in Majestic area in Bangalore.

Bangalore: “Even if you do not want one, we will ensure you have a ‘comfortable’ journey”, appears to be the mantra of the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) when it plies Vajra (Volvo) and Suvarna buses.

Particularly during off-peak hours, these beautiful buses in red and silver colours respectively, ply while Parisara Vahini buses are nowhere to be seen. Though this is the time for the crew to change shift, Suvarnas and Vajras operate unaffected as the crew is on day shift.

Between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., one can see Vajra and Suvarna coaches lined up along all platforms at BMTC’s terminal in the Kempe Gowda Bus Station, especially on Ring 3, where there are platforms for buses plying towards Jayanagar, B.T.M. Layout, Koramangala, Electronics City, Whitefield and Krishnarajapuram. Personnel manning the bus station, however, claim that they do not allow these buses to wait for long on platforms.

Kenche Gowda, who has a petty shop near Begur, off Hosur Road, said that he had waited for an ordinary bus to his destination for at least 20 minutes. As Vajras and Suvarnas had occupied the bays, he was unable to get ordinary buses and finally had to wait on the bus passage area itself.

“I don’t see any difference between the Suvarna and Parisara Vahini coaches except the colour scheme and the exterior design. If Pushpak fares are charged, I could have taken a Suvarna as I travel using day pass,” he said. Ram Prakash, a sales executive, said he was pained to see Suvarnas and Vajras running empty. “This is sheer waste of resources,” he said, suggesting that fares should be cut.

Authorities had claimed during its launch that Suvarna buses will be operated four hours each in morning and evening. Limited stops and comfortable travel with seats for all passengers were promised. So, the fares were kept on a higher side. However in reality, these buses operate throughout the day and buses are overcrowded during peak hours on trunk routes such as Hosur Road and Old Madras Road.

The BMTC’s fleet of 5,300 includes 320 Suvarna and 200 Vajra coaches, besides 44 Vayu Vajra coaches. Except Vajra routes on the IT corridor, Electronics City and Whitefield, most other routes are running under loss, according to the BMTC officials. Batting in favour of these premium services, the officials argue that it will take some more time for people to get adjusted to these services.


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