Is the BMTC indulging in price-gouging?

Bus travellers in Bengaluru claim that BMTC is charging more than it should. Ticket from Kundalahalli to Majestic shows 24 km when it should be 17.5 km.

A bus commuter, Vamshi Krishna, posted a discussion on the Citizen Matters forum. He stated that he was issued a  ticket for Rs.70 on the Volvo from Kundalahalli Gate to Majestic bus station in Bengaluru, and the distance printed on the ticket was 24 km. On 4 December, he boarded the bus, armed with a GPS device in hand and measured the distance. The GPS device however showed the distance covered as 17.4 km.

Citizen Matters decided to get to the crux of the matter and find out what the problem was. Was the BMTC doing something they shouldn’t? Was Vamshi Krishna’s device faulty? Or was it a misprint on the ticket? When we checked the BMTC fare chart on mybmtc.com, the maximum distance between Kundalahalli Gate and Majestic was listed as 19.16 km. The distance varied from route to route.

What does this imply? Was the BMTC looting citizens by showing incorrect distances on the bus ticket and therefore hiking the fares? We spoke to a couple of officials at BMTC and they assured Citizen Matters that they were certainly not.

‘Fares calculated according to stages’

Shyamala, Assistant Traffic Manager, BMTC said “The fares are not calculated according to the distance. They are calculated as per the stages that are covered”. With respect to the 24 km on the ticket, she stated that it was in all likelihood a printing error, as did P Ashok Kumar, who is the General Manager, Traffic, BMTC.

We also spoke to Chikkanna from the Customer Support team to understand what the stages meant. After stating that the fares are calculated as per stages, he proceeded to give us an example to explain further. From Majestic to Corporation circle, the 1st stage is at Maharani’s College and the 2nd stage at Corporation Circle. Every 1.5 km to 2 km, the fare increases. He also added that there are currently three kinds of buses plying in Bangalore  – Ordinary buses, Marcopolo AC buses and Volvo buses – the minimum fares for these are Rs.5, Rs.10 and Rs.10 respectively.

‘Fare can’t be manipulated’

Shyamala said that BMTC increased its bus fares in June 2013 and the BMTC website has been updated in accordance with that. (The fare chart can be found under the Trip Planner menu on mybmtc.com). She also added there was no way that fares could be manipulated as all tickets are issued as per details from the Electronic Ticketing Machine (ETM). The fares are entered here and the conductors do not have the permission to tweak this.

Vamshi Krishna had this to say about BMTC officials’ response, “If the distance has been misprinted, BMTC should take steps to correct it immediately. Also as far as fares being calculated according to distance, I don’t see the rationale behind it. It does not seem transparent. BMTC should revise the fares depending on the distance travelled.” He added, “When I came here, 4 years back, the same ticket cost about Rs.45. It has now gone up to Rs.70. Why is it increasing like this?”

‘Intelligent Transport System to solve problems’

With respect to the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) that the BMTC was to implement this year, Shyamala said that it was still in the initial stages and that they had put out tenders for suitable vendors to support with the same. Ashok Kumar added that it was likely to take a couple more months before it could be implemented. The Intelligent Transport System is supposed to simplify the current ticketing process and solve problems that arise out of it. People however will need to wait for a while before it can come into effect.

Another citizen, Srinivasan Sundaram reported that he did not receive any response from BMTC, though he had given an online complaint. On checking with Shyamala about this, she stated that complaints were responded to immediately and the concerned department was notified of the action that needed to be taken. For instance, in case a complaint was about broken glass in a bus, the mechanical department would be notified and the bus would be fixed in the depot the following day.

While the BMTC seems to have answers for all the issues that commuters face and looks as if it’s at the top of its game, citizens do not seem not convinced.

If you have any tales to tell about the BMTC and your experience with their service, do drop a note in the comments section.

 

 

Comments:

  1. Tiya Joshi says:

    Shyamala, Assistant Traffic Manager, BMTC,has claimed that all tickets are issued as per details from the Electronic Ticketing Machine (ETM), as per this report. That was quite long ago. Now the tickets are being issues from the ticket stack in majority of cases. Have almost always been issues pre-printed tickets on the BTM to Koramangala route and not the ETM

  2. Sanjay Vijayaraghavan says:

    BMTC is indulging in price gouging and illegal actions. I tried once to take it up with BMTC, but got no response. Let me try to explain my understanding.

    The fare for BMTC is fixed according to government notifications. See this notification called Maximum Fare for Stage Carriages in Karnataka. The fare has to comply to this notification, or at least not exceed what is specified in here.
    http://rto.kar.nic.in/Maxi%20rate%20for%20SC.pdf

    The key concept is that of a fare stage which is defined as a distance of 2 km. So the distance from the beginning to end of the journay is divided into segments of 2 km. Traveling within the stage is minimum fare. If your journey takes you from one stage to the next, then you pay for 2 stages. For example, if you board at a stop in stage 5 and get out in a stop in stage 5 itself, you pay minimum fare. If you get down in stage 6, you pay for 2 stages. If you disembark in stage 9, you pay for 5 stages.

    How BMTC gets away is by defining stages as less that 2 kms. Here are some news stories covering this issue:
    http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/article817575.ece
    and
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZET4Ytilhs

    For this particular journey, on route 335E from Majestic to Kadugodi, look at the stages
    ROUTE NO–V-335E
    KEMPEGOWDA BUS STATION TO KADUGODI
    SL.NO. Stages Starting km Length of stage(km) Comments
    1 Kempegowda Bus Station 0 2
    2 Maharani’s College 2 1.4
    3 Corporation 3.4 2 (till Bishop Cottons)
    4 Bangalore Club 5.4 1.4
    5 B.Station/Mayohall 6.8 2 (I am not sure which is exactly accounts office stop… so took a point 2 km away)
    6 Accounts office 8.8 2
    7 Domlur 10.8 1.3
    8 NAL/Manipal Hospital 12.1 1.7 Till HAL bus stop (before Suranjandas road)
    9 HAL Main Gate 13.8 1.9
    10 HAL Kalyanamantapa 15.7 1.5
    11 Marthhalli 17.2 2
    12 Kundalahalli Gate 19.2 1.1
    13 A.E.C.S. Layout 20.3 2
    14 Graphite India 22.3 2.5
    15 Sri Sathya Sai Hospital 24.8 1.4
    16 I.T.P.L 26.2 1.7
    17 Hope Form 27.9 1.6
    18 Kadugodi Bus Station 29.5

  3. Sanjay Vijayaraghavan says:

    Sorry that the last bit of data is all jumbled. You can see a formatted table for couple of routes in the link below
    http://praja.in/hi/blog/murali772/2013/04/04/where-bmtc-may-be-going-wrong#comment-33867

    Clearly, bmtc not only has one of the highest fares in India, it also ingeniously squeezes customers by using arbitrarily defined stage lengths violating the government order governing it.

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