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.