Public transport and the monopoly called BMTC

Here are some random stats I picked up last month.

  • Delhi: 60% of commuters use buses that take 7% of roadspace. 20% of people use cars etc that take up 75% of roadspace. (source: Business-Standard)
  • Mumbai: 70% of commuters use public transport. (source: Business Today)
  • Namma Bengalooru: Only 20% of commuters use public transport. (source: Business Today)

Don’t know the basis or sample size for these, but the numbers were quoted in opinions and editorials of repute. Few things these numbers tell you are:

  • Public transport is the reason Mumbai keeps running despite such high population density. And,
  • Bangalore can easily solve its transportation woes by strengthening public transport systems.

I am tempted to write further and blame the monopoly called BMTC for low usage of public transport in Bangalore. But that line of thinking needs some more research.

While a public monopoly like BMTC can hardly be expected to deliver good services, I am told the experience with private bus operators in Delhi hasn’t been that good. And in Mumbai, another monopoly called BEST provides far better quality of service than BMTC.

While we wait for Metro here, if BMTC can work on adjusting its routes and frequencies based on real user feedback, that will help. Take the example of Volvo service. It has started off well, with good publicity and wonderful commuter goodwill. Volvo commuter is the type who’d give up his/her car to commute, and will expect information on bus route details and timings to be easily available.

I see that a few more Volvos have started in my area, but information on these new routes (331A, 333P, 500L) isn’t there on the Volvo page. I have in fact tried to call BMTC call center several times, but the number 22108304 just rings and rings and rings.

About the routes, commuters from suburbs will like to be dropped near popular ‘job centers’ within the city. BMTC doesn’t know this new set of customers if it expects them to get off a Volvo at Shivaji Nagar bus stand or on Richmond Main Road and then hunt for an auto-rickshaw to reach their office buildings. Smaller size buses, or even Pushpak like services that have timings aligned with these Volvos, have a better chance of making commuters give up their cars.

So Metro or no Metro, I am waiting for a day when I can walk to a bus stand outside my community, take a nice bus to a terminal in the city. As soon as my bus reaches the terminal, I find another familiar bus waiting to take me close enough to my office building. And vice versa in the evening.

The sad thing is, all this is “almost” in place today. But BMTC has to learn that the word “almost” doesn’t find a mention in “customer service” dictionary. The first step it took with Volvos to attract a new set of customers was good. It needs to take that a little further to make some serious difference to the traffic madhouse called Bangalore.

Note: Images sourced from BMTC website.

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53 Responses

  1. Maybe all those new grid routes will help people give up their private vehicles atleast over long distances from one end of the city to another. 5-10 years down the line, I see BMTC operating more on the grid route model and giving lesser importance to the current hub and spoke model.
    The grid route and Volvo buses have boards in both English and Kannada. This may push people who dont use the normal buses because they dont read Kannada to start using buses.

  2. SB,

    I agree. I think BMTC needs to be a little more customer responsive. Calls to their designated numbers are not responded to and emails either bounce or are not replied to. I think the volvo 500D is an utter waste. Why would any sane person pay Rs.60/- to go from Hebbal to Silkboard when the pushpak charges Rs.11/- and the ordinary bus charges Rs.10/-; are more frequent, more reliable and can be depended upon and its easier to cut thru the city and reach hebbal from the southern parts of the city. I think Volvo will work best between “better off areas” like BTM – Majestic / Koramangala – ITPL / Indiranagar – Jayanagar like the V2 route (JP Nagar – Majestic). The pushpak buses could be made more expensive by not allowing more than a certain no. of passengers – say seating only so that people can travel comfortably. I wonder how we can get to the BMTC bosses to convey our suggestions.

  3. You are right about almost. I can speak for Delhi only. I strongly feel that the metro should be allowed to spread as much as possible. That is the only long term solution ato all this.

  4. Namma Nadu, I don’t think V500D is an utter waste. I myself use it often, and frankly its the preferred mode if I need to wait for 20 minutes or less.

    As to Why would any sane person pay Rs.60, its becasue:
    1. Its faster
    2. Its more comfortable
    3. Most important, Its not crowded…
    If you ever tried getting into a normal bus from Silkboard to Hebbal between 8 and 9 in the morning, you will understand why #3 is most important.

  5. And yeah, I think the frequency needs to improve. Even though V500D is my preferred mode, many a times I have settled for an ordinary 500D simply because I know that my preferred mode will mean waiting for more than an hour.

  6. Sajith,

    I was one of the early users of 500D and it is utterly unreliable. The timings on bmtcinfo.com are rarely followed. I even spoke to BMTC MD – Mr. Tripathi who gave me the number of the Depot Manager from where the Volvo’s operate ( KBS for info sake) – 98442-63157. I invariably end up calling him to find out if the bus is coming and end up taking the regular ordinary bus. BTW – the depot manager cribs that the bus is not viable and doesnt know when it will be pulled out. Hence i thought Silk Board to Hebbal via the city would be more feasible, economical and help commuters ~ 20 kms compared to the 28 kms on the ring road. In any case, there are hardly any people from Marathalli to Hebbal.

    Glad to know that there are fellow commuters in this bus ! Most of the time, i have travelled with a handful of people.

  7. I agree about the reliability factor, and it has left me waiting on rare occasions. That said, most of the time I decide to take the bus, I have been able to get it between 0800 and 0820. I guess more people would wait for the bus if it increased the frequency and improved its image about being on time.

    PS: Thanks for mentioning bmtcinfo.com – (useful) new info to me.

  8. I tried commuting to my workplace using the Volvo services and for that I had to transfer at Marathahalli and get onto of the Volvos heading to ITPL. But to get to Marathahalli I had to depend on 500D and it never turned up for the 2 days I tried this route. I gave up as on it as it is very unreliable and use my car now. By the way I dont mind spending a few extra rupees if BMTC provides me a comfortable and reliable service.

  9. http://www.indianexpress.com/sunday/story/12869.html

    cities stall, Indore shows the new bus route
    Anubhuti VishnoiPosted online: Sunday, September 17, 2006 at 0000 hrs Print EmailLow-floor, passenger-friendly buses roll out in public-pvt venture, civic body makes Rs 1 crore in just seven monthsINDORE, SEPTEMBER 16:The solution for the public transport problems of India’s big cities is now running on the roads of Indore in Madhya Pradesh.

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    Indore has become the first city in the country to put in place a fleet of 53 modern low-floor buses equipped with GPS and computerised ticket-vending machines. In two days, the bus stops will have electronic sign boards to show the status of the buses.

    The new Tata Starbuses have the same tariff of Rs 3- 12 as that ot the old Nagar Sewa mini buses that pack people like sardines. The perpetual story of public transport losses seems to be over. Since February this year, when the buses started running, the municipal corporation has made Rs 1 crore profit.

    The city is celebrating the new transport system run on private-public partnership.”There was just the Nagar Sewa until some months back. Rude staff and overcrowded buses made going out a nightmare. I always ended up taking an auto or just driving down myself. But look at these buses. The conductors and drivers are so well-behaved, there is separate seating and exit for women, the bus comes on time and has so much leg room,’’ says Ramneek Kaur, a housewife.

    The man behind the move, Vivek Aggarwal, District Collector and Executive Director of Indore City Transport Services Limited (ICTSL), says: “Indore’s transport system was in complete chaos in June 2005 when I took over as collector. There were no bus stops, no fixed bus routes, Nagar Sewa buses just stopped anywhere they felt like. Having spent some time in Europe I was fascinated by their bus system. We identified 350 bus stops in the city before surveying all routes.’’

    Aggarwal chose the joint-venture route. No one believed it would work, says Aggarwal. “But once our first few buses rolled out in February this year and elicited such great public response, there was no looking back.”

    The buses are colour-coded according to routes, the staff are trained in etiquette by a management agency, the buses run from 7 am to 11 pm and are out the next day washed, cleaned and air-dried from the yard after ICTSL staff checks them everyday.

    The collector says Indore will have 96 such buses by the end of the year and a fleet of 500 in five years. With another Rs 98 crore coming to Indore under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission, the city plans to start construction of designated bus lanes for a complete Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) with the help of IIT Delhi.

    The national Capital, Delhi, has been discussing the scheme for four years and just about managed to sneak in six buses last November. And it took Indore just nine months to put the scheme on tracks.

    There will soon be more lessons for big cities from Aggawal’s Indore. Next in line is a dial-a-cab service to replace the 15-year-old tempos on the Indore roads. While Nagar Sewas have not yet been phased out, Aggarwal hopes the market will force them out.

    The word is spreading fast. Indore is now being consulted by Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Jaipur, Kota, Udaipur, Rourkela and Raipur. Soon a World Bank team will be here to study the scheme.

  10. Champu – Thanks for pointing this article out. Besides the good PPP story, I also noticed this in there:
    “Next in line is a dial-a-cab service to replace the 15-year-old tempos on the Indore roads. While Nagar Sewas have not yet been phased out, Aggarwal hopes the market will force them out.”
    Wonderful idea. Markets are definitely in a position to force three wheelers out. Omni cots only 20% more than an auto, not sure about fuel efficiency of CNG Omni vs CNG auto though. But if bus services were better, and cab services cost only 20-25% more than autos – replacing autos could be possible. Plus, as Christopher here says, and Volvo experiment proves, people are willing to pay a bit more to get better bus services.
    Naveen – What exactly is a “grid” model? Only North-South and East-West services types, or something else?
    Sajith/Namma Nadu – interesting to hear your BMTC experiences. Looks like one thing that can help BMTC most is a good way of taking commuter input. More commuters = more profit for BMTC, sounds like a win win.
    But BMTC being a public monopoly, wont improve. It is just the vary nature of “sarkaari” companies – as long as you are good enough, there is no real incentive to improve. Good enough = I make profit. BMTC does that today.
    Indore’s PPP model could be showing us the way. PM being such a big fan of PPP, hope he starts forcing it on all cities.

  11. Silkboard – Yes, the Grid Model the BMTC has started to introduce is East-West and North-South routes without passing through Majestic/Market/Shivajinagar. I think there are 25 such routes as of now. Am not sure about the frequency though as I have just seen the dark blue buses near my place. But there’s no way these buses can avoid the crowded CBD…they may have to design some routes without crossing the CBD to reduce commute time.

    More than long distance N-S and E-W routes, there should be more buses on N-E or S-W or E-S routes. For example, junta travel between Indiranagar, Koramangala, Madiwala and Jayanagar everyday. The turnaround time is around 30-40 mins from Indiranagar 100 feet road to Jayanagar 4th block on an average and around 20 mins to Forum via IRR and the dreaded 80 Feet Road. Why cant the BMTC just run buses every 5 mins on this route? Shouldn’t take more than 20 buses rite? All the greedy autodrivers will be kept at bay and the traffic flow will definitely improve.

  12. Nice story about Indore!! Seems like a gr8 city, have been hargin about this city from quite some time now, its been in news for some good news or the other. Indore’s initiation for BRTS seems to be gr8 idea, as I have read somewhere about the haeavy costs involved in making Metro’s and its quite tough to make them profitable, till then buses are only better options, and looking at BRTS (BTW, in simple words BRTS means a dedicated lane for Buses, where no other vehicle is allowed to move), this will make the transportation better and faster for common man like me, who hae no means of transportation other then BMTC buses, or Bus No. 11 (i.e. legs)

    One more useful Info:
    http://www.bmtcinfo.com/jsp/
    is a good website to find buses on different route/connecting buses etc.

    Chaos

  13. There are private vans that run illegaly-called maxi-cabs. They are dirty inside and the drivers are VERY rash. They are quite unreliable. I travle by BMTC every day and use maxi-cabs only as a last resport

  14. Naveen, I too see a these dark blue buses, now I know what those are. Basically, turn-around time, and “uncomfortable” perception are the big 2 main reasons people dont use BMTC as much as they should.

    George – I too heard that these max-cabs are illegal. These vehicles look so old they could dis-integrate anytime.

    Making BMTC work better is the single biggest way of making Bangalore traffic condition better. But looks like people lay more priority on Wi-Max/telecommuting, road widening and flyovers.

  15. In my opnion, BMTC has two problems:
    1)Crowds-at rush hour, you are lucky if you can stand with both legs on the bus. Getting a seat is as probable as winning the lottery.
    2)Image-More serious of the two problems-buses are a poor man’s mode of transport. How can a software engg ride in a BUS? Even an office boy has a 2 wheeler? A project manager has to come by a C segment car-otherwise, who respects him

    Reliabilty is not an issue-I travel daily by bus for last 7 years and have had no problems. I have crossed the city at 10 at night with no problems.

    A private company may have an approach to solve this problem. The answer is NOT direct competition with BMTC in the form of maxi-cabs. Instead, groups of employers in a single location can have a transport service-for example, all cos in Electronic City can have a common bus system that runs in the morning and the evening and picks people up and drops them back from different locations in the city. This is superior to running individual company buses/cabs which cannot possilby cover all routes. Infosys already does this-they are big enough to have enough persons to cover all routes. In addition, timings can be staggered so that people have the option of leaving office at 6:30, 7, 7:30 etc., a flexiblity that was provioulsy available only to car/bike users. Same goes for CV Raman Nagar area/Bannerghatta Road. ITPL already has a bus service.

    On a related note ,can we have a dedicated bus lane on the elevated road to Electronic City?

  16. I simply dont understand BMTC. Whilst i agree with George about the image problem, the bigger problem is reliability and comfort which is missing. These days, Pushpak has been reduced to an ordinary bus status with virtually same fares as the regular buses. In peak hours, there is a need to charge ‘premium’ rates with atleast Pushpaks so that those who can afford it can travel in relative peace and comfort. There is a yawning gap betwen volvo and ordinary buses and that needs to be tapped. For instance BMTC could provide Rs.100/- pass for volvo. ‘Mayura’ concept of KSRTC can be extended to BMTC a rung below volvo. Today there is a lack of imagination by BMTC. I hope the Indore experiments rubs off on BMTC.

  17. Do we REALLY need Volvo buses NOW? NO. As i mentioned in one of my earlier posts, we’re not mature enough to have Volvo city buses. We should think of luxury only after solving the basic issues. George mentioned that BMTC buses are crowded at rush hour. They WILL be. Bcoz’ instead of buying 5 ordinary buses for 75 lakh, the govt chose to buy 1 volvo bus! That’s why.
    Is BMTC blind not to see the rush hour crowd? Are they dumb not to have more services during rush hour? Don’t they have logic? If you have to feed 4 people and you have 200/-, would you go buy ONE biriyani from Taj or 4 meals from a cheaper hotel?

    When BMTC “DOES NOT ENOUGH” have buses during rush hour, why do we see BMTC buses with Software Company nameboards? Why can’t they be run as normal route buses? Aren’t those companies rich enough to have their own services?

  18. Hi Biju,
    The purpose of Volvo buses is not to take the strain off the ordinary buses that are jam packed. The purpose is to convince people who would otherwise travel by car to travel by bus, thereby reducing congestion on the road and speeding up travel for everyone from the occupant of a Merc to a person in a jam packed ordinary bus. As car travelling people are rich and expect comfort, they have to be provided luxury in a Volvo bus or they will not use it- they will use cars instead, making life worse for everyone. From previous newspaper reports, it appreas that Volvo buses are making a profit(please correct me if I am wrong). If this is the case, there should be no problem in buying volvo buses as any bank will be happy to lend BMTC money for the purpose. If it is a loss making venture, then the situation is different and Volvo buses are desirable only of the reasons I outlined above. If they do reduce congestion to a great extent, a subsidy can be given-it may be chaper than building flyovers in certain cases. There may even be a case for introducing Wi-Fi access in all buses later on to make peopel use them instead of cars.

    Ordinary Parisa Vahini buses(blue and white) are highly profitable-BMTC is the only profit making city bus service in India. If more of them are introduced, the poorer section of the people who travel on bikes may use them-especially with increased cost of petrol. There should also be a service to all outlying areas outside the city(already a minibus service has been started by SM Krishna govt. and is currently being extended now). There should also be more grid route buses/ring road buses etc. There must be display boards of all route info and timings in English and Kannada. These can be put up by private advertising cos. with a space for ads.

    Reliablity is not such a problem-on main roads, u do get a bus relatively soon, although I agree that in some cases timings are not adherehed to. Improved timekeeping will help. Can there be an SMS service that tells you how to travel and when the bus is available? If it costs less than 5 rupees, even poorer persons will be able to afford it, as even relatively poor persons have a mobile phone. This may cause ppl to give up 2 wheelers-big road congestion problem gone.

    Many of these steps are almost being put in place, and I do appreciate the management of BMTC for this. A stepped up effort to put these in place will be welcome.

    About BMTC renting buses to software companies-software cos , unlike PSUs like HAL/BEL, are not interested in maintaining there own fleets of vehicles but are interested in outsourcing this as it is not one of their core competencies. some use private cos, others like Infosys use the BMTC. As long as BMTC makes a profit in this way, it should have no problem buying more buses to lease to them and hiring extra staff. This may already be the case in which case there is really no problem of buses being diverted from ordinary use to the service of these cos.-without Infosys, the bus would not have be purchased in the first place. It is good the private cos. do use buses, rather than asking their employees to come by car/bike and jamming the roads. The profit made in this venture can be invested for providing more buses for the ordinary commuter.

    Pranav, Thanks for letting me use your blog for this purpose

  19. Biju, George, Naveen, Namma Nadu – A very engaging discussion on BMTC. Since I am not a user, I didn’t know a few things discussed in here. But we all agree on and know one thing: BMTC does not realize how important a role it can play to decongest our traffic. For Bangalore, its like that Mriga (Deer) and Kastoori story – a ready solution is right here, yet the focus is on flyovers and what not. As George says, BMTC is making efforts. But they could do better and more.

    Guys tell me one thing. How does BMTC formally take input from its users? I mean how can you and me discuss these things directly with someone at BMTC? How do they do surveys for route planning?

  20. Hi George,
    Yes, if the intention is to bring the car users to bus, it’s good. It’s just that i feel REALLY REALLY BAD when i see 10 people hanging out of a bus and when 100s of people are waiting for a bus, a volvo passes by with 5 passengers. Just makes me wonder what our priorities are.
    I’m not against anybody making a profit, but when the rush hour crowd shows that there are enough and more people to travel at that time, why should BMTC run for Infosys? Again it’s a question of priorities. If BMTC doesn’t operate for Infosys, some other private guy will. Let them. It’s like trying to solve my neighbour’s problems when my family is in ruins. Can’t digest that. I’d love to see BMTC running for Infosys AFTER they solve their HOME issues.

  21. SB> “Making BMTC work better is the single biggest way of making Bangalore traffic condition better.”
    Very True… has always been true. Well said – solution is right in front of everyone, but the time and energy is spent on other things. Do you know why? Lack of Merit – lack of imagination. People running this organizations – lack this basic trait – which is required to run any succesful large scale operation. Thats really the point – get the right people to manage such stuff, and we do not have to go around talking to zillion people about travel routes and pot holes.. ofcourse, easier said than done…

    George Matthew> Thanks.. very good explanation.
    And this general perception is not true though – that people use cars for comfort. Not really. They use because of lack of alternative. Buses are overcrowded, unreliable and rude. Thats the reason.

    Volvo buses first and formost should be run from Airport every half an hour to all major destinations, hotels around the city. There will be ready and very greateful takers of this service.

  22. @Apun ka Desh
    In my opinion, buses are not that unreliable. I travel by bus daily and I am quite sure of getting to my destination in time. You have to know bus routes and rough schedules, though. the perception of unreliablity is something that has to be removed if people are to use BMTC more. Of course, BMTC certainly has some work to do. I do not know if the SMS idea discussed above is practical or not.

    Buses are certainly crowded. In my experience, crew of crowded buses are overstressed and rude. In less crowded buses, crew is more helpful-instructing outsiders where to get off, giving directions etc.

    I do not agree that the management of BMTC is utterly incompetent as you say. Bengalooru/Bangalore is the first city to have Volvo buses and the only city where the MTC is profit making.

    The idea of Volvo buses from the airport to hotels was proposed by the BMTC abt one month back. They said it will be implemented when more buses are available

    As Silkboard says, BMTC have the potential to decongest the city. To a certain extent they are doing what they need to do, altough small improvements are required. As citizens, please patronize this service and avoid using your car whenever possible

  23. Hello everyone
    I travel to Hyderabad frequently and I found that Hyderabad City bus service is far better than Bangalore bus service. They have bus stops right outside the main Railway stations – Kacheguda, Secunderabad, and Hyderabad. There is no such thing in Bangalore. You have to walk one km from Railway station to Majestic Bus stand tackling all the pestering autowalas, street vendors, filthy underground passage, and a maze of steps. Still one is not sure about which bus to take and where it stops. In Hyderabad city, they have a customer friendly guide standing at the main bus stops, guiding the passengers to the correct buses. And also all the buses have signs in Telugu and English, some times also in Urdu/Hindi.

    BMTC, please open your eyes and learn from other cities.

  24. i’ve always suspected something like this was going on. now i have one clue that it is true. there are other conspiracy theories of mine. one day even the clues will come out.

  25. Tarle – what are these consipracy theories of yours? Would love to hear them

    I think BMTC is a decent turnaround story. I used to take it from 1982 till 1992. Buses were very very crowded but used to run punctually. I used to take Route No. 190 on a daily basis and it used to be infrequent but punctual The bus terminus at JBNagar had a timetable displayed on a big board and buses (90% of the time) stuck to it. As long as one knew when a bus was scheduled, you could depend on it 350/365 days. This is data based. Not sure how it is anymore. I can see that buses are not that crowded. They are much more expensive.

    Was checking out bmtcinfo.com One of the things I noticed was the proliferation of routes. there must be 1000 routes. Quite a few of them had only 3 or 4 schedules everyday. While this might be okay for a route that originates from a village (many of the villagers come to city market in the morning and head back in the evening) it is not okay for routes that run from residential areas. THis is like trying to have a flight from Mangalore to Raipur. Of course you cannot afford many flights a day.

    BMTC has to also decide that it cannot be something for everyone. It needs to define who it’s target user is. Even in Singapore where buses and trains are cheap there is a proliferation of cars. I would say that current users + x% of two wheelers could be a starting point.

    The other thing is to have a system which allows better frequency, capacity utilization and reach with the same number of buses. Without doing too much analysis I think a hub and spoke system might be the answer. Here are some very back of the stamp (not even envelope) calculations

    The city will have to be divided into 10-12 hubs and each hub should connect to the other. make that about 100-120 routes. Assuming an average frequency of 10 minutes on each route and a round trip time of 150 mins we will need 15 buses on each route. 1800 buses gone there. These hub-hub routes should cover most of the arterial roads.

    Then each hub needs to have about 10 ring routes that cover its hinterland. Let’s say each of these routes takes 30 mins on an average and a frequency of 5 mins. We will need about 60 buses/hub and 700 buses in all to cover this.

    A total of 2500 buses for 12 hubs. Given that monthly passes are available the cost should not increase for a passanger because of changing.

    The balance 1500 buses should be used to cover the surrounding suburban areas and villages. They can probably connect to some of these hubs or to the usual City market, Majestic. Assuming 250 destinations I think they can still offer decent level of service for these.

    Are 12 hubs the answer? How will they be placed? Needs more thinking and some mathematical modeling.

    Volvo buses should be operated from Airport and the two railway stations and from places where people can afford them.

    Any thoughts?

  26. sri i have seen your post am in the processing of typing it down.
    interesting post.

  27. On increased costs: I am no economist, nor a transport engineer, but do you know if the prices have increased proportion to value of the rupee itself? (inflation)
    On frequency: Couldn’t agree more. I have read some colonies continuously petition BMTC for added frequency. But I doubt apathy is the reason. There must be some problem. Resources?
    On customer profile – current passengers + x% of two wheelers is an excellent, tangible metric. But I would also like to see BMTC position itself to complement metro fully. In that sense they have to share the metro profile too.

    That brings me to the main point. BMTC needs pre metro & post metro plans.
    Frequency calculations. Just nitpicking, your overall numbers are in the ballpark. I am just redoing the calculation on the envelope; we’ll stick the stamp and mail it later.
    In a fully connected N hub network, (N*N-N)/2 = N*(N-1)/2 routes. i.e, for 12 hubs, 66 routes. (this is an upper limit). Frequency, f =10minutes, round trip time,T =150 minutes, 15 buses/route. 15*66 = 990 buses in network. + say about 5% reserves, 1050 buses.
    The spoke network. I think wanted to say spokes with about 30 minutes reach. It is not clear too me how the rings could be reached. Calculations on these are the same as yours but on a spokes rather than rings.
    About suburban connections, I think BMTC/KSRTC already plan to develop peripheral hubs (I think about 5), so that majestic becomes intra-city transport hub. Hopefully peripheral hubs are mixed hubs (both intra city and inter city hubs) otherwise, I donot see any utility to it.

    On aspects of modeling.
    Ofcourse, demand estimates would give capacity requirements, which would set frequency. There is some data available on congestion levels on important road links. There is prolly a high correlation between that and demand. Ofcourse, BMTC itself will have records. Though the type of trips people are actually making might also have to be considered

    One way to decide the number of nodes, is to start with a map of density distribution and do a centroidal voronoi tessellation which roughly, equidistributes nodes according to density. This is different from the distance metric you have used in the sense that regions of high density will have more nodes. So it equalizes capacity. So all hubs will account to similar total densities. Your model equalizes distances (which is prolly logistically more appealing).
    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/173/456593735_2ecaf61112_o.jpg

    (ignore the high hub(node) count, I made that image a few years ago to discuss some other application, which needed the high node count, the basic idea of density sensitive distribution is intuitive and you can see that in the image. Ofcourse for our current discussion, actual underlying road network is important, and these nodes can then be collapsed(projected) on to the nearest road. So it will be a slightly distorted version of this)

    The interesting point is if the density distribution is uniform(as is prolly the case in old BMP areas, then the distribution is uniform grid. http://farm1.static.flickr.com/252/456593725_6d4cef0c15_o.jpg

    This I think is what BMTC is after currently. The idea behind grid based system is that in principle at the max only 1 change has to be made. While in a grid and spoke system, the maximum is 2. Plus in hub & spoke system intra hub transit calculations complicate the design, in the grid system that becomes a moot point.

    But this is a pre-metro/non-metro plan. How to do it with Metro is the more interesting problem.

    Sorry for the long post just got carried away.

  28. Wow, great comments. still digesting them. Hey George, if you are still around, I am sure you will have more to say on this grid vs hub-spoke thing.

    Does anyone here have contacts @ BMTC? Let me know.

    BTW and meanwhile, BMTC site seems to be down for sometime now.

  29. Tarle,

    Thanks for pointing out the basic error. NC2 should have been obvious, but brains rust over time :)

    The other thing that you said was the impact of the Metro. We definitely need to have a plan post Metro. Someone (don’t ask me who) needs to force BMTC and BMRCL to sit together and talk.

    Will read your links and get back later.

  30. Tarle,

    On costs, I speak with very little data and so I could be wrong. But given that BMTC is a monopoly there would likely be very little incentive to keep costs down. see what some healthy (and unhealthy) competition has done to airfares, train fares and even the cost of a new Maruti-800.

    On ring routes, what I meant was a system where the route would begin at a hub and end at a hub, not necessarily backtracking on the same road. Visually a hub would look like a flower petal. We would probably need to have clockwise and anticlockwise routes to avoid systemic biases.

    Some Metro stations would be natural hubs. On the face of it (and I have griped about this before), Byappanahalli seems like an awful choice. But with a bus hub adjoining it and serving areas like Whitefield, KR Puram and Bangalore East one could actually convert it into a smart choice. But this cannot be left to chance, but will need to be planned out today, so that land acquisition can happen, bus hubs can be built, etc etc. (They say I am a dreamer :))

    Rather than minimizing changes, I would try and minimize total elapsed time for a journey, including walking time, waiting time, journey time, etc etc.

  31. Not to mention an important node that connects these areas to Bangalore North bypassing central area.
    Apr 14th Dh had a note on BMTCs traffic & transport management centers.

    Rather than minimizing changes, I would try and minimize total elapsed time for a journey, including walking time, waiting time, journey time, etc etc.
    Oh these are all correlated I believe.
    later

  32. Quite encouraging that they are at least thinking on these lines. Now for the walking of the talk.

    bmtcinfo.com is up. they’ve added some Volvo routes. Again not frequent enough. There are 10 trips a day from Banashankari to ITPL. Is this enough?

    BTW – according to the BMTC website it carries 35 lakh passengers/day. I think this is more than 20% of the commuting public. It is also profitable – making about 100 crores in profit a year.

    I’ve also observed that BMTC buses are on the few that have doors. I also see that 20-30% of them don’t bother to use them.

    So not a complete disaster. But a long way to go to get to excellence.

    Tarle – agree that all related. but I don’t think the number of changes is the overriding objective. If I have to make 3 changes, but get to my destination faster, I would do that. Maybe I am the exception though :)

  33. Have a suggestion for BMTC. George – is there any way to get this across?

    For Volvo buses there needs to be predictability in the timings. See this example for route V500L

    Departure Timings from Banashankari Bus Station to ITPL
    0745, 0845, 1020, 1125, 1325, 1430, 1605, 1730

    Departure Timings from ITPL to Banashankari Bus Station
    0900, 1005, 1205, 1310, 1445, 1610, 1750, 1850

    As a commuter, isn’t this a bit hard to remember? Isn’t it simpler to have 8:00, 9:00, 10:00 – just start the buses on the hour every hour.

  34. Well, it is easy to discuss these things like an IT project management and compare with other cities and simply say “hyderabad is good, indore is good”. But, BMTC is the best in entire India. Earlier it was chennai, now it is Bangalore. I think most of the people except few (George) writing here haven’t travelled in BMTC, simply with “illusions and comparisons”. To be frank with U, I too don’t use it – but, everyone in my family uses buses only. My mother is using since 1965 and still now she uses. They are maintaining time to reach their office and come back home. Only thing is U need to plan for more time for your travel since U need time to goto Bus Stand. Everyone in my home except me is having BMTC monthly pass for Black Board buses. They are not interested in Pushpak / Janapriya Vahini Buses since it doesn’t cover maximum areas as the Black Board Does and the driver takes time to issue tickets which will equate the time of Black Board Buses. They do not know much about internet and blogs and don’t post on any of the blogs. These are the category of people who are using BMTC buses from ages. But, we on the other hand will post blogs without knowing ins and outs of it and just with illusion and 1 or 2 bus travel experiences and compare with other cities. Especially those who are from different state and who might have used buses in their state always want Bus Transport here should be like that.

    Why to goto different state. Our own Mangalore has got excellent Bus facilities without any planning. But, all are private vehicles. You can reach faster than your own vehicle. Most of the people in Mangalore use this. But, all the drivers are very rash. Since Mangalore roads are not as crowded as Bangalore, it is OK. In Bangalore, if we allow private vehicles, there will be accidents everywhere.

    Only problem they face is during peak hours, buses are crowded. After 11am and upto 4pm, most of the buses are comfortable with less crowd. My aunt, who is a housewife usually plans to travel after 11am. BMTC has women special buses and pass holders only buses etc..

    They complain that BMTC is introducing volvo unnecessarily to attract IT sector people, but, only fingercount passengers travel in these buses. Each volvo city bus costs 75 lakhs and on road it almost comes to 90 lakhs. Instead of that, they can introduce 5 ordinary buses which will help them all.

    Why BMTC is not solving problems of people who are not using it and trying to insist people who are not using it to use it and wasting money? People in this blog has complained there is no frequency of volvo buses, but, it is huge investment to increase the frequency of volvos. For volvo passengers there are not enough buses and for volvo buses, there are not enough passengers. Solution to this problem is once IT sector people come out of their comfortness requirements and start using ordinary buses, BMTC may come up with more ordinary buses (5 instead of 1 volvo), this will increase the frequency of buses and this will solve the problem of whole Bangalore and just not “IT Sector” who may or may not use these services.

    If we are settled with simple lifestyle, we can live our life anywhere. IT has given unexpected level of comfortness and people in IT sector expect the same everywhere. But, the same IT people when they go abroad especially to USA, they suffer miserably with minimum or no public transport at all. In India, they expect things to be at their fingertips.

    Sorry for the long running comments..

  35. Sorry, in my previous comment:

    Why BMTC is not solving problems of people who are not using it and trying to insist people who are not using it to use it and wasting money?

    should have been read as

    Why BMTC is not solving problems of people who are using it and trying to insist people who are not using it to use it and wasting money?

  36. Hello all,

    I am a regular traveller of BMTC since 15 years. BMTC deserves some sort of appreciation for introducing volvo buses, Grid routes, monthly and daily passes etc. However there are
    For BMTC to be effectively utilised, there are a series of steps it should follow. I had posted these in the complaints/suggestions section on the BMTC website but has fallen to the deaf ears.
    I would like to share some of my thoughts on how BMTC can do better service to the citizens.

    1) Mention the destination boards in English and Kannada. Its a shame that a lot of people who cant follow kannada find it hard to find their buses and have to depend on external help.

    2) Ply buses from central terminii to smaller but important bus stations only. (For eg a single bus route from Majestic to Jayanagar bus stn will do. There should be a lot of connecting buses provided to the adjoining areas in Jayanagar).

    3)Introduce more number of late night services at a premium rate.

    4) Stop the practice of a single driver manning a bus (He has to drive and issue tickets which causes traffic jams and slows down the bus).

    5) There should be a monitoring system at all important bus staions to maintain the puntuality

    6)Instead of expensive volvos , BMTC can consider cheaper and ordinary TATA/Layland buses which are airconditioned and almost provide the same comfort standards. We do not need all the features in a volvo for a city like bangalore.

    7)Villages, especially in the suburbs which have poorer and narrow roads should be served by mini buses running at frequent intervals.

    8) Introduce limited stop services.

  37. Vasanth,

    Agree and disagree with you. Let me elaborate a bit more

    Somewhere up there I have mentioned that I have used BMTC from 1982 to 1992. I left Bangalore in 1994. I have owned a car for only 2 years in the period from 1996 (when I joined a job)till now. This was from Dec 1999 till Aug 2001 when I was in Hyderabad. In Bombay, I used buses and trains. In Singapore I use buses and trains to commute. I don’t own a car. Why – the bus service is excellent and cheap and so are the trains

    One does not need to travel by buses day in and day out to suggest improvements.

    My point was that BMTC is not deploying its fleet of Volvo buses in the most effective way. Having a Volvo service from Banshankari to ITPL 7 or 8 times a day does not make sense. Either have it running frequently enough so that it is well utilized or stop it. They have spread their fleet of 60 Volvo buses across too many routes with the effect that they come so infrequently on a particular route that people don’t wait for them

    Good public transport is the onl way out of the traffic mess. Good public transport also means different things to different people. BMTC as a profit making corporation can offer different levels of service to different passengers.

    I think BMTC has come a long way from its BTS days. But I still think BEST is better. their buses cover every nook and corner of Bombay and complement the suburban rail service well. Their drivers drive to the left of the road and are not as rash as BMTC. Believe me I have seen both. Hyderabad drivers are easily the most rash.

    Happy to keep talking.

  38. Why BMTC is a failure for Bangalore’s Public transport. Its simple

    BMTC Buses are never on time

    At peak hours from (morning 8 to 11 and evening 6 to 9) BMTC never follow the time schedule

    instead of putting more buses on peak hours BMTC cut the trips and hire buses to IT companies like Infosys and others

    BMTC should be able to do a survey and get the public feedbacks so that the schedules can be rearranged in peak hours

  39. Srivathsa,

    As I told earlier, why to emphasize on Volvo Buses only. Mr. Sathyan rightly said we don’t need these expensive volvo. A TATA or Leyland fitted with A/C will also will serve the same purpose. If people from IT sector are ready to travel in these kind of Buses, more number of ordinary buses can be added which will increase the frequency. Although the bus which you are expecting may not be time, you may get previous bus which is running late. Since Bangalore traffic is chaotic, U cannot expect BMTC buses on time. Even if you use your own vehicle also, you cannot be ontime.

    Volvo is running under loss as per today’s news paper report. It is hardly giving 1-1 1/2 kms/litre of diesel . We don’t need whooping 275BHP power when we hardly travel at 40-50 km/h in Bangalore City.

    As Mr.Satyan said, it is good idea to Ply buses from central terminii to smaller but important bus stations only. (For eg a single bus route from Majestic to Jayanagar bus stn will do. There should be a lot of connecting buses provided to the adjoining areas in Jayanagar). Because most of the people’s habitat is to roam around nearby places, say for example I am staying in Kattriguppe and I will be roaming around in Hanumanthnagar, Bank Colony etc.. Very rarely I goto say Sanjaynagar etc.. it is good idea to have this system.

    With the metro train and monorail coming up in near future, it is better to have these junctions in the metro/mono stations. Smaller distances could be covered by buses and for large distance Metro/Mono will be the choice.

    Time being, Government instead of investing in 1,000 more volvo should go for 4,000 more ordinary buses and should ply in the existing normal and grid routes. Less emphasis should be given on volvo because of the cost involved and loss during a riot or an accident.

    Volvo Buses is becoming popular only for people travelling to IT corridors and failing to satisfy a normal Bangalorean. So, it is better to run Volvos only to ITPL and Electronics City. A park and ride facility bus stand with Volvos passing through is a good idea. Shanthinagar,Byatarayanapura, Shivajinagar and upcoming Jaynagar bus stands are the candidates for this. Instead of having 60 volvos running in different locations where there is no profit, BMTC should concentrate on running these buses to ITPL and electronic city. Frequency will increase and their profit will also increase. Only during non-peak hours, they can be run to residential areas.

    I have sent mails to BMTC many times. Mr.Somashekar will reply to these mails promptly. Mail address is grahakbmtcshakthi@gmail.com. You can send suggestions to him if you need.

  40. All good points Vasanth. Hard to keep schdules in this traffic. And you are right – Volvo might be an overkill in terms of costs involved in running them. I think Pune or Indore city (not sure which one exactly) is buying new low-floor buses from Tata – cheaper than Volvos.

    Park and Ride is a good idea too. IT crowd can all then realistically switch to Volvos. Either that, or you can also have short route buses start just when Volvos arrive so that the there are no long waits.

    Any idea if BMTC is pushing for dedicated bus lanes on crowded corridors? Also, do you know the specifics of how exactly are BMRCL and BMTC cooperating?

  41. Vasanth,

    Agree with you. Invest in more ordinary buses and in cheaper a/c buses. Maintain them well. get rear engined buses with automatic transmission to make the driver’s life a bit better. Improve frequency of existing buses especially during morning and evening rush hours.

    I am with you on how to use current Volvo fleet. Need to deploy it where it will be used rather than putting them on many routes where they are not used. Volvo has to be profitable by itself.

    Tarlesubba and I were discussing the same idea as Sathyan – see our discussion earlier as well. my thinking is that instead of targeting cars – BMTC should target two wheelers to switch to buses.

  42. I tried the bmtc info website but coul dnot find the time table of V500K and V500L. Can any one of youplease give me a link to it.

  43. You didn’t search hard enough Sap. Here: http://www.bmtcinfo.com/english/volvo.htm

    Click on the route to see timings.

  44. Does anyone know the volvo bus timings from silk board to marthahalli?

  45. What do you say .. ?

    + I see more people using it in morning .. 75% occupancy .
    + Could got hold of evening bus at 8PM at Nagawara.

    - Need to see if they operate regularly in late evening?

    - If they properly schedule buses when (there are traffic delays) one bus becomes late. I have seen two 500D going together in same direction.

  46. I regularly use 500D, boarding from tin factory. During peak hours i do find the timing unreliable by almost a margin of 20-30 mins. But guys during that time the traffic en route is clogged at bottle neck areas. Even if I drive it won’t help me. For those looking for timing, I simply asked the conductor (tress??) :) She told me the service starts at 8:30 Am every half hour. Hope this helps. I am definately happy to use the service instead of driving.

  47. oops, I stand corrected. The time table is posted at this link :) enjoy, :)
    http://www.bmtcinfo.com/english/v500d.htm

  48. This article is terrific and up to date. I totally agree with the writer regarding all this stuff of GPS .The information provided in here is very fruitful and i would like to add on one more technology which i found during searching for last two hours on GPS in india
    http://www.satguide.in/
    check it and let me know, what you think about it.
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  49. Please visit http://www.narasimhadatta.info/bmtc_query.html for Bangalore Bus Route Search. You can search bus routes between any two locations or look up any bus route number. Several search parameters such as minimum number of hops or maximum bus route availability are available on the site.

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