Saturday, August 15, 2009

Revamped Bangalore Bus Transport Service

In the US, public transportation system is absymal and pathetic. Except for some major cities like New York, Chicago, San Franscisco etc, there is nothing worth you can find as in Japan, China or to a big extent in India too. There has been this great lobbying by car manufacturers for the past 50-60 years that has prevented simple public transportation to kick off. In the US, there is no fast bullet trains despite being such a vast country while Japan has several of them. I rather am amused at the way public bus system works in Miami. The frequency is so bad and connectivity is not proper.

In India, we have a far better system of public transportation (Of course, it is very true that every city needs a metro like that of Delhi and the pace of completion is very slow). However, when it comes to buses we are way ahead of the corresponding systems existing even in a developed country like America.

Bangalore's BMTC (earlier known as Bangalore Transportation Service - BTS. BMTC stands for Bangalore Metropolitan Transportation Corporation) is currently the most profitable city transportation corporation in India. One of the prime reasons is that BMTC has been continuously trying to reinvent itself in many ways - through application of technology, better service and revamping interiors, getting new - low pollution, better mileage, commuter friendly buses. The buses now in Bangalore are low floor VOLVO buses which has triggered a revolution. Now, Delhi has taken inspiration and before 2010 Commonwealth Games they plan to convert their entire fleet into these ones. Even Chennai, Ahmedabad, Pune want this to be replicated in their cities. The funding for such buses are shared by Central, State and the bus corporations under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by Manmohan Singh Govt during his first tenure. So, BMTC has to shell out 30% of the expenses.

Look at BMTC in comparison to BEST buses in Mumbai:

BMTC operates 4,500 buses on 1,400 routes to carry 3.7 million passengers every day across Bangalore, while 4.5 million passengers travel on 3,380 buses owned by BEST on 335 routes in Mumbai.

I personally have traveled in VOLVO buses and trust me excepting for the crowd (which is quite natural) the experience was very comfortable and pleasing.

BMTC posted a profit of Rs. 140 crore during recession in the past 2 years when all major city bus services were reeling under losses. It earns 2.58 crore everyday by ferrying 40 lakh passengers.

BMTC receives 50% of revenue only from bus passes used daily by school and college students in addition to teachers, working women. How can I forget even I was one of those who used monthly passes 10 years ago.!!?

The new benefits of monthly passes which also has insurance cover, medical expenses reimbursement and parking discounts at a really affordable prices to a common man and I think this is a great idea being followed attracting people to use bus passes. Now, you have even an unlimited daily pass for as low as Rs. 30 using which you can travel in buses in the city anywhere. Bangalore also has one of the highest bus-to-population ratio in the country which is 1:1027.

The pictures posted so far are of the "Vajra" bus service within the city.

The best part of Vajra is the LED display in Kannada and English about all major stops of the route continuously scrolling from left to right and it is a delightful sight and easy to figure out if that bus is for you or not. Vajra buses have 50% seats at low level and the rest 50% at an elevated level. Nice Kannada FM radio plays all the time and most importantly Air Conditioned

Now, there are at least 1000 such buses that will be added to the existing fleet and old ones would be soon removed. Good thing...If Volvo buses are plying on roads, government may not spend lots of money on CNG as Volvo causes extremely low pollution. This is in fact the reason why Volvo buses are being used heavily in Shanghai too.

The existing "Parisara Vahini"(second image below) buses still operate and they are manufactured by EICHER or even Pushpak(first image below buses continue to ply on the roads.

When BIAL airport was opened just abt 1 or 2 years ago, BMTC introduced special non-AC Suvarna buses exclusively to the airport with a fixed set of stops and limited passengers. This however did not generate that much enthusiasm. So, Suvarna buses(image below) were added to the regular fleet in more numbers than the airport one.

When Suvarna buses were added, they hiked the prices and as a result - "Parisara Vahini" buses got more revenue. Later, they slashed the prices of both Suvarna and Vajra buses and introduced pass systems for them. This has now giving them huge profits. There were huge complaints on Suvarna buses being not available at peak hours despite BMTC's promise. However, due to raging agitation, BMTC increased its peak hour frequency on 20 major routes.

This is the existing fare structure as of Feb 2009 when the prices of both Suvarna and Vajra were slashed and as a result a common gets an AC Volvo bus to travel within the city. For most routes Suvarna doesn't allow commuters standing and thereby runs less than 50% occupancy in a day while Vajra allows the same. Of almost a fleet of 500 Suvarna buses, 116 of them are exclusively offered to Airport service.

Interestingly, it appears that BMTC never wants to be passive. Recently, they introduced 3 different types of bus services within the city. They include the Orange line Kendriya Sarige, Blue line Kendriya Saarige and the yellow BIG10. The pictures of all 3 are below:

The orange and blue lines connect different parts of the cities covering only the main areas/stops and there is a flat fare of Rs.10 between any 2 points on a line. The areas that these cover are available in the maps below: The maps are available online on which is the official website.

Areas covered by the blue and orange Kendriya Saarige.

The Big10 covers 10 major roads using which commuters can go from any one such road to the other.

Besides these, there is "VAYU VAJRA" services exclusively from and to International Airport to various city points. There are almost 16 different routes and they dont intersect and there is a separate provision for keeping luggages and the number of seats are limited. This map has been put up just outside the airport.

They start at 5:30 am and ends at 1:00 am on most routes. Completely A/C and music playing all the time, it is a very comfortable ride. No sound of the engine, less noisy and fuel efficient buses has changed the city a lot. Only hitch is the roads. If the roads in the city were wide enough, the experience would have been ideal. The road from the new airport to the city entrance i.e Mekhri Circle is the best road in Bangalore as of now.

Let's not forget whenever Bangalore Metro becomes operational, BMTC is going to get a tough time. Anyday railways would be preferrable over buses within the city because of heavy traffic and time taken to commute.

However, as a Bangalorean I am proud that we have a chance to see and use a revamped bus transporation system which is both eco-friendly and commuter friendly.

I am sure very soon all major cities will start using such eco-friendly buses and at least we can reduce pollution - air and noise on roads. Thanks to UPA Govt's JNNURM scheme which is very good in its content, but must change the way the funds flow so that there is no misuse. Not all organizations can be like BMTC (doesnt mean BMTC is perfect, but is definitely doing better) in terms of fund utlization.


Praveen said...

Seems to be a very different place, compared to the school/college days when we used to take buses. The only concern is - Can everyone afford these fares?

Vamshi said...

Nice post Anju.. Next time I visit bengaluru, I would definitely take a trip in the volvo. Nicely articulated. Good job.

Tushar said...

only if u were to see the traffic there

Tushar said...


devi said...

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chidanand said...

Addition to this,BMTC has also started refreshment on board during travel which is running on trial basis. The food served are very hygenic, has different varieties & fast food.This service is available on some of the airport plying buses.

Karmasura said...

Good one.. I'm pleasantly surprised at the quality of the buses and even the roads.. may all cities and tier 2 towns have such a system..

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Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Yeah.. good blog Last month i have visited Bangalore & Mysore. I found such a nice Bus Management System there. Their Frequency,knowledge of conductors,etiquette are very excellent. I like the VAJRA which is a BIA service.. connects you from almost all places of Bangalore to International Airport.
I also came to know during recession when there is a job fear.. executives has started traveling in Buses & Auto Drivers has striked because of Low fare of Buses..

Good Work Bengaluru & by their Govt

Majestic!! Majestic!!

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Charlotte Movers said...

Public transport system is a need almost everywhere in the world. Roads are scarce and pollution is at its all time high. Time to switch to lesser polluting public transport systems like the Metro or CNG run automobiles.

Packers Movers said...

In the US, public transportation system is absymal and pathetic. Except for some major cities like New York, Chicago, San Franscisco etc, there is nothing worth you can find as in Japan, China or to a big extent in India too.

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bus from kl to penang said...

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reshma M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jim smith said...

I would definitely take a trip in the volvo. Nicely articulated. Good job.
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Yash Agrawal said...

There is nothing good in air-conditioned bus. Air-conditioning is the last thing that should be there in a bus. Air-conditioning is a waste of energy and is not eco-friendly.

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