Monday, September 21, 2009

Bus hub is in the pit of neglect

Bus hub is in the pit of neglect

The electrocution of a commuter at Kalasipalyam on Friday brings to focus the poor infrastructure in Bangalore's oldest bus terminus. More accidents are bound to happen if the BBMP fails to improve passenger facilities, Shwetha S reports

Shwetha S

Dinesh Kumar Rajpurohit was waiting for a bus at Kalasipalyam when a cloud burst drove him to a shelter too narrow to accommodate passengers. Suddenly, the branch of a tree crashed into the shelter snapping a live wire that stood in the way of its fall. The wire fell on Rajapurohit and he died instantly as his wife, three-year-old son, and scores of passengers watched in horror.
Friday's tragedy is a grim lesson for the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike which is responsible for the maintenance of the bus station.
The station has no building to shield passengers from rain or sunshine. There are no benches for them to sit or designated platforms to wait for buses. When their legs slowly begin to ache, some passengers squat on the muddy floor. Others stand on the concrete floor near the stinking toilets.
When it rains, puddles add to the mess-up. "Waiting for a bus is real pain. When passengers get down from buses, they will land in puddles unless they watch their step," said Meenakshamma, a villager who regularly brings goods to Kalasipalyam market.
"Every alternate day, I come from Mandya to sell vegetables and fruits in the market. With no platform, roof or chairs, I've to stand for hours under the hot sun while waiting for the return bus. There are not even water pots to quench one's thirst. There is no water in toilets," she said.
As passengers wait amid the dirt and stink, their eyes move restlessly for the right bus they have to catch. With vehicles parked haphazardly, drivers fighting for parking space, and hawkers blocking the way, their right bus leaves by the time they identify it. As they continue the long wait, advantage is for hawkers who sell chips, cool drinks and coffee.
"Major space in the bus station is occupied by hawkers. They are restricting passenger movement. There are no bus platforms or boards to guide the passengers. Our bus may be standing at one end and the passengers may be waiting at another. We find it difficult to reverse the vehicle," said Karthik Mariswamy, driver of a private bus.
In separate incidents, two passengers were run over recently as they failed to notice buses reversing. A traffic constable admitted that accidents are bound to happen amid the confusion at the bus station.
"There are only two to three constables posted to direct traffic. About 3,000 buses come to the station every day. Accidents happen as passengers keep chasing their buses. Previous month itself, there were two accidents. There is chaos as passengers don't have platforms or seats," Rajashekar S, a constable, said.
"We've been facing this problem for years and nothing has improved during this time," said Baregowda R, a passenger. When night falls, women fear to tread the area.
"Most of the travellers visit bars before entering the dimly-lit bus station. There are about 20 bars in its vicinity. Most of the drinkers are those who come to the market to sell their goods. After a good business, they end up in bars in the evening. Every day, not less than three or four of them miss their bus as sleep inside the bus station. It's not a safe place for women and children at night," said Viswanath Swamy, a shopkeeper.
"We are aware of the problems faced by the passengers and are planning to renovate the bus station into a modern hub like TTMC in Jayanagar or Mysore Road Satellite bus station. We've sent a proposal to the government in this regard. Once we get the green signal, we'll float the tender for the project," AK Gopalswamy, chief engineer of the BBMP, said.


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