Pic: Vaishnavi Vittal
First up, let me state that I treat myself like a princess when it comes to commuting. While buses are probably the first choice of transport for most folks in the city, I am yet to make my peace with it. And I have tried, honestly! And at the end of each bus journey, I am put off buses for a couple of months.
A couple of days back, a friend was talking about how much she enjoyed the me-time on her commute home from Jakkasandra to Malleswaram and how she manages to get a good amount of reading done in that time. That did it for me. I always read a book on my commute by auto to office. If it was possible to do the same on a bus, I might as well give it another shot, considering that it would more than halve my cost of commute.
Also read: When BMTC bus stops to buy vegetables!
And just like that, post work on last Tuesday, I made my way to the bus stand, all the while repeating to myself: “I will take the bus home without succumbing to the lure of the auto.” I did manage to not fall prey to the autos’ siren song, but my attempt to embrace BMTC as a possible mode of commute was quite pointless… And I believe my reasons for the same might echo with the sentiments of other infrequent bus commuters, especially out-of-towners.
Reason 1: The bus is almost always earlier than I am
This has happened to me more than once. The bus stand is a three to four minute walk from office. No sooner than I step out of the office building, a bus that could ferry me across to the centre of town whizzes past. And even if I tried running to the bus stand, there is no way I can catch up with it. And this is when I wish that teleportation was a possibility—I could catch up with the bus or simply get home right away!
Reason 2: The next bus takes forever to reach
I wait and I wait, but the fates are not too kind. So I continue waiting. And when the bus finally does arrive, it is crowded. And I’d rather continue waiting, than consider getting on the bus. Or maybe it’s time I hailed an auto.
Reason 3: Where is the bus stand?
The bus stand near my office has a small blue board that calls out bus stand. The one near my home does not have a board, let alone a shelter. If it happens to be raining or if the sun is blazing overhead, one is left to the mercy of the weather till the bus arrives.
Reason 4: Most of the signages are in Kannada
This is most important. Apart from the buses that ply to the airport and the air-conditioned ones, I have a difficult time deciphering which bus goes where. And this is because most of the signs are in Kannada. While I manage to speak Kannada, reading the language is not one of my skills (yet!). And I’m sure this is the case for many folks from other states who are in Bengaluru.
Reason 5: The bus shelters do not have the routes listed
In Chennai for instance, almost every bus shelter has a list of the bus numbers that stop there. Not the case here… There’s only so many times that one can ask those standing around or conductors of random buses, if a bus will take me to where I want to go. If someone from BMTC is reading this, here’s a hint: Numbers are mostly understood by most non-native residents of Bengaluru, so chop, chop, do get to work.
Reason 6: The buses are crowded
Well, there’s no escape from people considering we live in a city with 9 million residents. But I’d really prefer it if I didn’t feelstifled each time I get into a bus. If I needed that, I just plan a trip home to visit family who are keen on seeing me ‘settled’. Also I do not want to get trampled on or come under the wheels of a vehicle, when I am trying to do something as simple as boarding a bus.
Reason 7: Overactive sweat glands
Everybody sweats and it would be nice if they remembered that. Most often when I am feeling oh-so-smug about finding a seat and secretly feeling sorry for those standing, some passenger ends up supporting themselves near me. While it is in their best interest, I end up with a rancid armpit inches from my face. Bleeegh!The only solution to this is to find a window seat in the centre of the bus and stick my head out.
Reason 8: Phobias galore
This is probably a pet peeve, but I am scared of several things on a bus. I am naturally accident prone; I stub my toes a couple of times a day, I often scald myself while cooking, I’ve had my fair share of broken bones… well, you get the drift. When I am on a bus, I am scared of falling down, petrified of twisting an ankle, I feel claustrophobic and though I believe in the inherent good of people, I cling on to my bag in the fear that I will be robbed.
Reason 9: So much to do, so little time
The one and a half hours I spend in an auto commuting exhausts me—there have been times where I have felt more roadrage than the person who is driving the vehicle. After spending an average of eight to nine hours at work, it would be brilliant if I didn't have to spend another two to three hours hauling myself from one end of town to the other. The bus being a fabulously long vehicle takes time to amble along in traffic, especially when the road curves. And if I manage to get on a bus that’s moving fast, there is the fear of it mowing down other vehicles and people in the process.
Reason 10: Last mile connectivity
To quote my father, “When I was young, we only took the bus and from the last bus stop, we walked.” Once I get off the bus, my home is still another 1.5 km away. That according to me is too close to take an auto (one and haff, madam) and too far to walk, especially considering that Titanic (my laptop) weighs a whopping 4.17 kg.
So yes, these are the many reasons why BMTC has had difficulty in retaining me as a trusty customer. I’m sure there are several folks who will empathise with me about some of the issues I have. While I’m aware some of the reasons may seem plain foolish, they are very real to me.
I also came across a post on the Whitefield Rising community on Facebook, which published the results of a survey to determine why people were opposed to the idea of using BMTC’s services. While the respondents were mostly non-BMTC users from around the Whitefield area, I found many similarities to my own observations. Here’s a screenshot of the reasons why folks do NOT use BMTC services.
Under the parameters specified, here are the top reasons.
- Comfort: Crowded bus
- Connectivity: No direct connectivity
- Time: Waiting time at the bus stop is high
- Reliability: Don’t know when the buses arrive
- Safety: Driving is too rash
Seems like the respondents took a little walk inside my head before they shared their inputs!
If you have any suggestions/feedback/more reasons you think I should add to my already long list, do share them in the comments thread. Here’s wishing every BMTC commuter a safe, comfortable and happy journey!