BENGALURU: Citizens from different walks of life came together on Sunday on a platform for better public transport in the city. They suggested several ways to improve the bus service in the IT hub, which has been grappling with the problem of increasing traffic congestion. The occasion was #BusBhagyaBeku round table conference organized by NGOs Citizens for Bengaluru and Bengaluru Bus Prayanikara Vedike.
“BMTC should be service-oriented and not just act like a corporation,” said participants.
Dr Ashish Verma of IISc said: “Unlike Bengaluru, public bus is treated as a service across the world. Unfortunately, BMTC seems to revise fares to increase revenues. This affects the public access to livelihood, education and healthcare. BMTC ignores the fact that ridership volume also decides the revenue. As price increases, ridership drops.”
“BMTC should offer public better service and it requires State government support,” said a regular passenger H S Sudhira.
Many participants voiced complaints about overcrowding of buses, poor services to the slums, poor frequency and sub-optimal routing and high fares.
“Why are so many Volvos are running empty when ordinary buses are less? Why do students have to hang from the steps of bus to reach school or college?” asked Venkatesh, a student.
Rathanmma of Garment Workers’ Union said, “We sometimes compromise on our meals to afford BMTC bus fare. Why do we need to risk our lives travelling by share autos that offer less fare?”.
“If we are even five minutes late to the factory, we lose a day’s wage. How can we afford to wait for buses, if their timings are not fixed?,” asked Madina Taj of Garment and Textile Workers’ Union (GATWU).
Shanti, a resident of Laggere resettlement slum said, “Daily we have to travel to KR Market for our livelihood. The travel costs B 50 to and fro per person. We cannot afford this, and hence many residents end up sleeping on footpaths in KR Market. Some of them come home once in three days”.
“The garment industry contributes to the economy as much as the IT companies. Why then should there be different services for the two industries? Regular services must be doled out for everyone,” said Nivedita Menon of Centre for Budget and Policy Studies.
The conference passed a unanimous resolution to petition the Chief Minister on behalf of citizens to double the BMTC fleet and halve the fares. Public representatives from Sadhana Mahila Sangha, Samvada, Coffee Board Layout RWA, Laggere Slum Rehabilitation Site, Savithribai Phule Mahila Sangha, Transgender groups, Ulsoor RWA, Ambedkar Nagar colony representatives and several college students also participated in the conference.