Vayu Vajra buses lose out to cabs over high fares in Bengaluru

BMTC’s passenger revenue dips as commuters say it’s cheaper to take a cab

Published: 24th March 2017 06:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th March 2017 06:41 AM   |  A+A-

Tough competition for Vayu Vajra

Express News Service

BENGALURU: When Santosh Kumar and his parents reached Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) from New Delhi, they learnt that all is not ‘fare’. Taking a BMTC AC bus to Electronic City, they discovered, it would cost them Rs 300 per ticket while a cab ride estimate hovered close to Rs 800. 

“Shelling out Rs 900 for a bus ride is just insane. There’s no overhead space for luggage too in a bus. Taking a cab is the more sensible and economical option unless you’re travelling alone,” Santosh said.

With the scrapping of the proposed steel flyover to ease traffic congestion on Ballari Road, experts feel BMTC should now chew over the idea of reducing its fares to check the volume of private cars and taxis on roads and ease traffic congestion, especially on Airport Road.  

BMTC records show revenue from passengers has reduced from Rs 1,994 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 1,917 crore in 2015-16. Though BMTC doesn’t have records of revenue from airport route, officials admitted that patronage on BMTC’s Vayu Vajra buses has dropped by 20 per cent to 30 per cent after Uber and Ola started charging flat rates between Rs 400 and Rs 500 for drops to and from the airport. 

“We have also faced a dip in revenue collection after the demonetisation of high value currencies. Now, we have facilitated a point-of-sale (PoS) terminal at our counter at the airport where passengers can pay bus tickets using credit and debit cards in advance. Our Vayu Vajra buses were plying full when cab drivers went on a strike last month,” said a senior BMTC official. 

BMTC Chairman Nagaraj Yadav said the operational cost of AC buses is higher than ordinary buses. “We also pay toll, service tax of 6 per cent per AC bus ticket and other motor vehicle taxes. We are aware that fares are high compared to private taxis but it is not feasible to reduce them further because of the rising cost.” 

He said BMTC is considering to introduce ‘Happy Hours’ that charges flexible tariff in AC buses during non-peak hours to attract passengers. “We are launching more AC buses on airport route.”

Srinivas Alavilli of Citizens for Bengaluru, an NGO campaigning for increasing BMTC buses and reducing the fare, said BMTC’s revenue strategies are wrong. “The occupancy rate in the buses will increase when they reduce the fares. It will also reduce their operational cost.” 

He says most airport commuters who have to catch early morning or late night flights are willing to use BMTC buses because of the safety. “Most private cabs cannot offer the safety that BMTC can offer. But unfortunately BMTC is not tapping the potential by reducing the fares,” he added.  

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