BMTC flogs aging fleet, keeps rickety buses plying on roads

At present, the average distance covered by a BMTC bus is 5.47 lakh km compared to 3 lakh km in 2009.

Published: 29th August 2016 05:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th August 2016 05:46 AM   |  A+A-

BENGALURU: Bengaluru once boasted of having one of the best bus services in the country. But frequent bus breakdowns have done some harm to its popularity. On Friday alone, eight instances of bus breakdowns were reported in the city, according to Bengaluru Traffic Police Twitter feed.

R Hitendra, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), said, “We have requested BMTC officials to take corrective measures as frequent breakdowns create traffic congestion, especially during peak hours. We inform road users about bus breakdowns through Twitter, Facebook to make their commute easier.”

BMTC guidelines suggest that a bus that has run more than 8 lakh km or is 10 years old should be removed from the fleet. But statistics sourced by Express show that in the existing BMTC fleet, 830 buses have crossed 8 lakh km and 199 buses are more than 10 years old. This is an indication of how unfit buses are responsible for the frequent breakdowns. 

At present, the average distance covered by a BMTC bus is 5.47 lakh km compared to 3 lakh km in 2009.

Between 2009 and 2016, as many as 19,417 BMTC buses broke down, which translates to about seven buses a day. The number of buses breaking down have increased from 2,204 in 2009-10 to 2,548 in 2015-16. 

Even with public transport suffering heavily with such breakdowns, BMTC has not expanded its fleet. The number of BMTC buses has reduced from 6,431 in 2012-13 to 6,349 now. Urban experts say the city needs at least 15,000 buses to meet the demand. 

M N Sreehari, a traffic expert and an adviser to the state government, said, “Bus breakdowns are forcing people to use their own vehicles, which increases pollution in the city. But unfortunately there has been no effort to keep private vehicles off the roads. It is the government’s responsibility to provide a safe journey, otherwise commuters will be forced to depend on private vehicles or the Metro service.”

BMTC officials said they are aware of the frequent breakdowns. “We are planning to procure nearly 1,700 new buses by the end of this financial year,” said a BMTC official. However, another BMTC official said they are forced to continue maintaining old buses to get a fitness certificate from the Transport Department every year because of delay in procuring new buses. “The maintenance cost of old buses is very high. Instances of breakdowns have forced us to cancel some bus schedules. This will result in reduced bus frequency and hit revenue,” the official said.

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