BENGALURU: After a gap of nearly three years, BMTC has started inducting 1,658 new buses into its fleet. But this is not likely to bring a smile on commuters’ faces.
Apart from proposing to scrap more than 1,000 buses this year, the corporation is also planning to expand its chartered services for which a majority of the new buses will be deployed. So, peak-hour woes are likely to stay unchanged.
BMTC has 6,251 vehicles as against the required number of 12,000-14,000 buses. To add to this dearth, nearly 600 buses are off the roads because of break downs.
In addition, BMTC operates 862 buses as chartered services for IT parks, companies, factories and educational institutions. Raking in roughly `8 crore a month through its chartered services, it’s no surprise that BMTC prefers this lucrative model over ferrying regular passengers.
BMTC officials rushed to allay apprehensions, claiming that buses used for chartered services will ply on regular routes after completing their designated trips. But for commuters, it’s a tough deal as these buses will be available before or after peak hours.
“Our chartered and dedicated pass services will reduce traffic congestion since employees won’t be using their private vehicles. We have approached IT parks, companies, factories and educational institutions to use our chartered services. This will also increase our revenue,” a senior BMTC official said. “The new buses with features like comfortable seats, fire extinguishers, CCTV cameras and GPS tracking are expected to attract more clients,” the official added.
Earlier, many IT companies and educational institutions had pulled out of the agreement due to poor condition of the buses. BMTC has now started marketing aggressively, including distribution of pamphlets in educational institutions to promote its chartered services ahead of the academic year.
Vinay Srinivas of Bangalore Bus Prayaanikara Vedike, an NGO campaigning for better bus services, said, “There is no need for BMTC to operate chartered services and reduce buses for common people. Companies should hire private buses to reduce traffic congestion.”
He added that BMTC is focusing on profit-making initiatives due to lack of financial support from the government. “BMTC should reduce its fares to increase passenger revenue. This will encourage more commuters to travel by buses and reduce traffic congestion.”
Competition from cabs
Sources say BMTC’s passenger revenue has dipped due to competition from private cabs and Metro. With Uber and Ola picking commuters at their door step, BMTC buses have been losing popularity. Many passengers say cab sharing services are cheaper than BMTC buses. “I don’t need to wait for buses as cabs are hassle-free. A seat is ensured on a cab unlike BMTC buses,” said K Lakshmi of Vasanth Nagar.