BENGALURU: The city is sorely short of retiring rooms and toilets for drivers of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation buses, who are on the road for nearly 12 hours, between 8 pm and 6 am.
With 250 buses and three employees per bus, Bengaluru sees a floating population of 750 drivers. But there are only 54 beds to accomodate them in Basaveshwara Satellite Bus Terminal at Peenya. There are three bathrooms and two toilets here. “We go in public toilets or in the open,” says Gangaram Patil (name changed), conductor with the KSRTC for 21 years.
“There are two restrooms in Majestic depot, but drivers aren’t allowed to use it. It’s for the depot staff,” he says.
Managing Director of KSRTC, Rajender Kumar Kataria, says there will be “some free space at every bus station” for drivers to rest. “They won’t be actual restrooms. But there is space on the footpaths on which they can park the buses and the drivers can rest inside the vehicles.”
Patil says that buses are where the drivers rest, but the parking they find in Majestic is near garbage dumps and a public toilet,” says Patil. “No man can stand around these for even five minutes. The public toilet is falling apart, with its walls coming down and commuters urinate around the toilet.”
“Passengers who board from Majestic have no proper toilets to use and so they urinate in the parking area. No one thinks of what that puts us through. I sometimes think we aren’t humans anymore,” says Gopalaswamy (name changed), a driver.
Narayan, a driver with KSRTC for the past 23 years, says: “When it rains heavily, the garbage mixes with the slush and flows into the roads. It is difficult to step into this, let alone walk through it, but you will see KSRTC buses parked along this road. Drivers and conductors will be sleeping in them, despite the mosquitos and the smell.”
Parking bays have been allotted for these buses at the Basaveshwara station, but drivers say it can accommodate only 50 to 70 buses and there are no specific spaces marked out. “We drive down to Shantinagar and Chandra Layout and park along the roads, and sometimes even on the footpaths,” says Ramappa (name changed), who has been a driver with the service for more than a decade.
A senior conductor, Hanumantaiah, says, “We park in these places because we can’t drive all the way to Peenya. It takes hours to get there, and we lose most off our off-duty time in the commute. The roads are crowded and we’ll just be adding to the traffic jam.” He wishes Majestic could accomodate the buses and their staff.
Kataria says that there will soon be more parking bays. “The space at Majestic was taken up for the work on the Metro. When it’s completed, we’ll use the freed-up space to give more parking space,” he says. He does not mention any change or addition to retiring rooms for bus staff.