Bus day, one year on

One year since BMTC launched ‘Bus Day’ to popularise public transport. What are the learnings so far?

12 bus days later, why not sit down to share around some notes on the concept. When some folks first talked about it (back in October 2009), it was meant to be a day to promote public transport. PT day, CyBaNa (cycle, bus, nadi as in walk) day were some variants floating around. The reality for Bengaluru is that, today and for next 5-6 years for sure, PT would mostly mean Bus. The modes Cy and Na are mostly going to hinge around the Bus.

Read this Citizen Matters article on the initiation of bus day concept.

The Bus Day took shape. And a couple of folks asked, why not call it BMTC day. Good question, but you need traffic police to help move Buses on priority at crowded points, you need Pollution Control Board to measure air quality level at these same crowded points to measure how Bus-ing helps. Further, you need industry associations from major commuting destinations to pitch in with support; you would want Bus loving citizens, ordinary folks or celebrities to brag about their Bus rides too. The point is the Bus Day is mostly about BMTC, but not about BMTC alone. This is why when BMTC celebrated the anniversary of Bus Day; invitees included groups mentioned above, and more.

Some of us have watched BMTC and early Bus Days from close quarters. What did we see – good, or bad about the concept, and more specifically, BMTC.

BMTC bus day anniversary function was held at Hotel Chancery Pavilion on 2 February. Arun  Chakravarthy from BMTC, talked about how the idea initiated by Praja was adopted by BMTC. Bus Day has been used as an event to raise awareness about bus routes, and to interact with citizens and understand their needs. They spent time on identification of corridors especially the car clogged IT areas.

They have got support from the various government departments and ministers, industry organisations like Outer Ring Road Companies Association (ORRCA) and Electronic City Industries’ Association (ELCIA) and citizen groups.

BMTC says they have recorded decrease in pollution and increase in bus usage on select routes on bus days.

Suresh Heblikar, an environmentalist who spoke, said better public transport can avoid drastic measures like road widening; for as BMTC claims, in Whitefield alone, there were 3700 less cars and 1500 less two wheelers on the road on one of the bus days. He requested BMTC to target not just IT folks, but also students, who think bikes are cooler.

Transport Minister R Ashoka, said city’s public bus transport is now so good that people say, "Bus andre Bengalurige hogi (If you want a bus (service), go to Bangalore)".

– Meera K

The good part first.

BMTC is thought of as a government organisation, as in slow and weak on execution, incapable of working with other government organisations. Bus Day showed us that if you give them a very clear goal (Bus day on 4th of every month), they can execute, and work with other organisations. Night outs to sort out logistics for Bus Day, yes night outs, surprised some of us. Recces were done on the focus corridors to watch every pothole, bus stands, and possible choke points. Bus Day showed some of us that if given a clear goal, with some crisp directions on what could be done (pick focus corridors, put extra buses, get route maps out through radio, newspapers etc), BMTC can do it.

The not so good part next.

BMTC seems to be shy of "marketing" itself. There could be two possible reasons. Marketing expenses are perhaps harder to justify to whoever approves them. And it shows. The outbound communication channels at BMTC are all broken. Website, route maps – at BMTC offices, BangaloreOne counters, shops or wherever, awareness-building events etc – are all either missing or broken. Only thing somewhat in place is PR via media. The second reason could be that BMTC is not geared up to deal with the expectations that marketing activities would generate. Knowing their limitations, they may not be interesting in going beyond the 34% share they have today (that is % of commuters who use the Bus).

Bus Day was a marketing event. It made many people aware about what BMTC is, and also what BMTC isn’t. The end output of Bus Day has been increased revenues at BMTC, and also high levels of feedback, and awareness about things that BMTC MUST do to get even better. You see public transport lovers talking about problems like last-mile, passenger information system, better bus stands, driver behaviour etc.,

So at the end of an year worth of Bus Days, the ball is firmly in BMTC’s hands. A bit of marketing can give you more revenue. And communicating more with commuters, showing that you can work on feedback, can get you even more. So go BMTC, market yourself even more. And when marketing raises expectations, do be ready act on them. Some of that happened during the 12 Bus Days, but 66% of city is still not commuting using the Bus.

Comments:

  1. shashi kumar y says:

    Sir, where did the BMTC mention that they are holding a function?? It’s all done internally. Let them call the public for the function.. they will be trashed. Ask them to attend the JP Nagar sector problem. They don’t have the guts to attend. BMTC is a monopoly and wants that only so that too make profit. If they have guts.. let them allow private operates in the market.. then see the real situation. We the public/residents of JP Nagar Sector don’t have services to any other part except KBS,MARKET,SHIVAJINAGAR. In some sectors not even that.

  2. shashi kumar y says:

    If the BMTC allot some official to go through the praja website .. that is more than enough. They can do wonders in PUBLIC TRANSPORT. But they don’t have the guts. Are they ready too challenge me???

  3. shashi kumar y says:

    Let me inform all, the BMTC is cheating the VOLVO passengers too. But it is not visible to them. I’m ready for a open debate regarding the cheating/corruption/ misleading done by the BMTC to public. Are they??

  4. Vasanth Ramu says:

    Why people do not like to travel by BMTC? This is the question BMTC has to ask the car users / bike users. They will get ‘N’ number of answers. Compiling them and acting upon them is needed.

    Second is to check the greviences of existing customers.

    I am a regular BMTC traveller. Main problem is:

    Last Mile Connectivity – This is the major problem since Bangalore is so widely spread. TTMCs that are being started should have free cycle parking, pre-paid auto counters and shared auto counters.

    Buses do not stop in bus stop – This is still a fun to bus drivers making people to run behind buses.

    Frequency – Some of the routes are over alloted and runs empty, some are under alloted and runs highly crowded. More Business Intelligence is needed to allocate buses. Currently it depends upon your MLA / Corporator / Local organization’s influence.

    Online Tracking of buses, which was a feature provided by BMTC earlier using YI and withdrawn just for not making payment to the vendor of the service provider. This should have been restarted as part of Bus Day, but was not done.

    The traditional routing of buses from every locality to Majestic, Market and Shivajinagar should be avoided. This was a traditional routing started long back. They could be consolidated since they are located nearby.

    Now every locality should be connected to ITPL and EC probably with better fleet preferrably with A/C and minibuses. They could also have nearest TTMC be connected to every locality with attractive mini A/C buses. These TTMCs should be connected to ITPL and EC.

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