BENGALURU: The state budget presented on Wednesday evoked mixed reactions from bus passengers in the city.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has announced 3,000 new buses for Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) to reduce traffic congestion and to provide reliable transport services. As reported by Express, 1,500 of the new 3,000 buses will be procured on lease.
The government has also decided to induct 150 electric buses in Bengaluru and 50 electric buses in Mysuru. A new feature of SOS button and tracking will be provided in the BMTC mobile application to ensure women safety.
Siddaramaiah also said that the government will provide support to BMTC for purchasing new buses by repaying the loans availed by it.
BMTC has only 6,173 buses against the estimated demand of 12,000-14,000 buses. The move to add 3,000 new buses is likely to have little impact as the BMTC is also planning to scrap 1,000 aged buses. BMTC officials said 1,000 buses of its fleet has crossed 10 years or 8.5 lakh km, which needs to be scrapped according to the rules.
Srinivas Alavilli of Citizens for Bengaluru, which is campaigning for #BusBhagyaBeku, says the budget was disappointing. “Residents of Bengaluru have been demanding bus bhagya - doubling of the fleet and halving the fare for the past many weeks across the city. BMTC is the only alternative that can solve city’s traffic congestion. We welcome the move to induct 3,000 new buses but we re-iterate that Bengaluru needs a total of 12,000 buses and the bus fares must be reduced by half,” he siad.
“We appeal to city MLAs to raise this demand in the budget discussion and debate the pros and cons of bus bhagya,” he added.
On February 13, Express carried a report of BMTC’s move to invite private firms to operate 1,500 buses in the city on allocated routes and remunerate them on a per km basis.
The move is expected to get back the passenger traffic from app-based cab aggregators who are cutting into BMTC’s revenues. While private operators will have to look after operation, maintenance and driving staff, BMTC will provide conductors for the operation of bus.
Officials said the Transport Department will have to issue stage carriage permits to private firms. The department recently stopped the introduction of shuttle services on the grounds that intra-city transport was the BMTC’s lookout.