BENGALURU: Alarmed over the rising number of illegal private bus operators in the city eating into its revenue, BMTC has asked the Transport Department to launch a crackdown.
BMTC has drawn up a list of routes - Marathahalli to ITPL, Tin Factory to Hebbal, Banashankari to Silk Board and Goraguntepalya to Summanahalli - where private buses operate in large numbers.
While most of these private bus operators have a contract carriage permit that allows them to ferry passengers from one point to another, they operate like stage carriages, picking up or dropping passengers like BMTC buses. Stage carriage permit in the city is BMTC’s sole right.
“We are facing a huge revenue loss because of the increase in the number of illegal private shuttle services across the city. We want the Transport Department to take stringent action against such operators,” said a senior BMTC official.
BMTC is also upping the ante against app-based shuttle services like ZipGo and Ola Shuttle. These 12-seater air-conditioned maxi cabs, which ply as shuttle services, focus their operations around the IT corridor. While ZipGo continues to operate in the city, Ola recently withdrew its shuttle services following the crackdown by the Transport Department.
Sources say low fare, better frequency and availability of seats are attracting more people, especially construction labourers, garment workers and others in the unorganised sector, to private buses and maxi cabs.
“Most workers are dependent on private maxi cabs plying on Hosur Road, Tumkur Road and Mysore Road because of cheap fares. We have been asking BMTC to reduce fares but there has been no action so far,” said Prathibha, vice-president of Garment and Textile Workers Union.
According to Motor Vehicles Act, passengers travelling in vehicles without a valid permit are not eligible for insurance cover in case of accidents. It works in their favour that a severely short-staffed Transport Department rarely carries out checks.
Activists say most of these private operators do not follow safety and emission norms. Srinivas Alavilli, a member of Citizens for Bengaluru, says BMTC’s main priority should be service than making profit. “Private operators are getting popular in the city mainly because of BMTC’s high fares. Many commuters can’t afford BMTC fare so they are forced to use maxi cabs even though it is unsafe.”
Vinay Srinivas of Bangalore Bus Prayaanikara Vedike, an NGO campaigning for better bus services, says most private buses and maxi cabs plying in the city are owned by politicians. “Transport Department is turning a blind eye to these illegal operators.”
Joint Commissioner for Transport (Bengaluru Urban) J Gnanendra Kumar claimed they are regularly conducting checks against private bus operators.