[Cross-posting from Praja-Bangalore, comments are off]
So it did happen. Naveen, Murali sir, Vasanth, Praveen, myself got 30 minutes of Mr Tripathy’s time in his office. After introducing Praja etc, we were planning to present our (rather, Naveen’s) slides on single dedicated lane based BRTS idea. But Mr Tripathy said he was short on time, and would look at it later at leisure. However, he warned us that he just can’t do BRTS by himself. He is only a bus operator, and owns only the rolling stock. We should go to other bodies (BBMP/BDA/Traffic police to get non-rolling stock infrastructure for BRTS) to push for it. He then updated us on the BRTS-on-ORR project a bit. He seemed well versed with BRTS, its need and advantages, Bogota etc. Though, his take on the key reason for the success of buses at Bogota is – the interesting ways in that city ran campaigns to educate citizens on road discipline.
We came to back to Praja, and asked him on how he can help us establish a working relationship with BMTC. And the first thing he said was this, “if you guys can commit to sitting with us 5-7 day a month, I will give you space right here next to my office”. It was almost like he teased us, “So tell me, can you sign up for that commitment!?”. We said, well. Can’t ensure that same 5 guys can show up 5 days a month. But a constant number will show up, and that too without any break in continuity. Plus, we would use technology to include more folks ‘virtually’. He said fine, as long as you tell me some key guys who will stay engaged, let us try see how you can help us.
Our 30 minute slot ended right then. But he asked us to hang around if we had time. Time we did have, except for Vasanth who hadn’t taken the full day off. Minus Vasanth, we watched a presentation by an IIM guy on GPS based bus tracking and information system (like Yelli Idira) they are planning tp use in BIAL services. Past that, Mr Tripathy made us sit with Mr Nusrat Khan, who told us a lot of interesting things about BMTC’s operations/problems etc. Past that, we were asked to stay on for lunch with Mr Tripathy (thanks BMTC), Half an hour of lunch time was spent learning various aspects of BMTC. Mr Tripathy and Murali sir’s friendly digs at each other on the subject of privatization added a good dose of light humor as well.
During the lunch chat, we happened to ask him about “local loop” service (remember our last mile connectivity discussions here), and were told that BMTC is going to launch, in a day or two – hold your breath – a BMTC branded auto service!! This was sort of announced about a month ago (See mention of first mile connection in this Hindu article), but we thought this was only for BIAL services. We dont want to steal BMTC or local newspapers’ thunder, so more details on it later. But here is a short summary:
- about 4500-5000 autos,
- with GPS and some more gadgetry
- single point to point ticketing (bus to auto)
- autos tied to a TTMC,
- will be monitored and incentivized to do short distance trips from bus stand to nearby houses/businesses
GPS based bus tracking with SMS interface, and then this attempt at last mile connectivity, wow said we!! However, Naveen and rest of us told Mr Tripathy that the only thing missing in the picture (to woo the car drivers) is promise of faster travel times. A subtle point made again about BRTS or a variant, isn’t again :)
So anyway. This was not all. There were a lot of things said and discussed, but its hard to type it all in one post here. More as we find relevance.
Here we are then, back after interesting 2 hours at BMTC office with Mr Tripathy and staff. He did throw it back to us, and is testing if we can offer committed time to help BMTC on things we think we can help on. He did say he is short of traffic and transportation expertise in-house. Mention of word “experts” made us put a disclaimer, “Not all of us have stellar and relevant resumes, but collectively, our community has the knowledge, besides the end-user experience and expectations. Our help will be a mix of suggestions, reviews, and constructive criticism”.
Shall we test ourselves then? This sets us up nicely to start our first working group here on Praja. Action time folks, lets see how many of us are game to take the next step. Watch the announcement regarding “working groups”.