BENGALURU: While there is a desperate call from all quarters to provide last-mile connectivity from Metro stations, the reality is that even the existing public transport services in many areas in the city is being curtailed. Due to heavy daily losses suffered in the operation of feeder buses from Metro stations, Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has pulled the plug on 37 buses in the past few months. More services are set to be pruned in the near future.
According to a top BMTC official, the total number of Metro feeder buses have been reduced from 192 to 155 now. "It has been done across the city on routes which are causing huge losses. The routes have not been cancelled but the frequency has been changed. For instance, buses that run every 30 minutes now run every 45 minutes and so on," he said.
BMTC Managing Director V Ponnuraj told The New Indian Express that the reduction in Metro Feeder (MF) bus services will continue in the future too. "We are suffering staggering losses because of the feeder buses," he said. "A bus running an 8-hour shift needs to fetch us a daily revenue of at least `7,000 in order to ensure we meet our operational expenses. However, most buses fetch us only between `3,000 to `4,000 per shift. We are running at nearly 50% cash loss on a daily basis. It is extremely difficult to sustain such operations."
Feeder buses running from Baiyappanahalli, Mysuru Road, Kempe Gowda, Swami Vivekananda and Peenya Metro stations are the only ones that give BMTC break-even figures on the operational front, the MD said. Metro stations like Jayanagar, Vidhana Soudha, Trinity, and Banashankari fetch poor revenue, he added. "This leads us to infer that only the terminating points have huge patronage. Most people who use Metro, for instance in a place like Jayanagar, live within 500 metres to 1 km from a Metro station," he said. "Many people reside in narrow streets and buses cannot even enter such streets, thereby ruling out doorstep connectivity," Ponnuraj pointed out.
Meanwhile, BMTC has repeatedly been requesting Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) to share the losses it has been suffering on account of MF buses. Asked if BMRCL would chip in, Managing Director Mahendra Jain said, "Metro and BMTC should complement each other rather than compete. BMTC should provide feeder services to bring people up to Metro stations."
RESIDENTS PETITION BMTC FOR METRO FEEDER BUSES
Among the routes where trips have been cut drastically are MF-16 (Vijayanagar and MG Road Metro station) and MF-18 (Jayanagar bus station to Nayandahalli Metro station). This has prompted residents of Muneeshwara Block to despatch two letters to BMTC to revive the feeder services in their area.
While BMTC claims trips have been halved, residents here claim they have not spotted a single feeder bus in their block during the last three months. Requesting anonymity, an individual, speaking on behalf of the residents, said, "All of a sudden, BMTC introduced 20 buses six months ago to connect our area. Many did not even know about them. Then, suddenly, they call them loss-making ones and withdraw them. We definitely want buses to connect us easily to Nayanadahalli and Atiguppe Metro stations."
A second letter in this connection from residents of the block was handed over to the operations department of BMTC on April 19. "We have already submitted one letter with signatures of 120 residents requesting Metro feeder buses," the individual added. Asked about it, a top Metro official said, "We have reduced the number of trips undertaken daily by MF-16 and MF-18 by 50% due to poor patronage. Instead of running between 70-80 trips a day, we now run only 40 trips," he said.