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BMTC's night services virtually non-existent

Smriti Sharma Vasudeva, Oct 17, 2015, DHNS: 1:40 IST
Could her rape by the driver and helper have been prevented if adequate night bus services were available?  DH file photo
No BMTC bus was in sight at around 9.45 pm, when a female BPO employee - desperate to reach home - boarded a Tempo Traveller in the city recently.

Could her rape by the driver and helper have been prevented if adequate night bus services were available? This is a question before the Transport Corporation as Bengalureans feel a severe lack of buses post 9.30 pm.

Commuters, largely office-goers, are left with no choice but to depend on existing illegal parallel transport system which includes private mini vans and maxi cabs. Sadly, this throbbing illegal business of private vans, maxi cabs, tempo travellers has been in existence from many years right under the transport authorities' nose even as the BMTC has done very little to provide any solution.

However, BMTC officials don’t agree. They cite various technical and practical constraints including funds crunch, logistics and human resources. Also pointed out is the lack of adequate demand for operating regular night bus services.

While BMTC operates as many as 6,229 schedules with 76,039 trips daily, there are less than 100 buses which operate post 10 pm. The few which do ply are the ones assigned for routes leading to the railway stations, Kemegowda Airport, Outer Ring Road and ITPL. But the number is abysmally low compared to what is required to cater to the IT/BT employees, most of whom work in late night shifts as well.

BMTC officials maintain that to operate the night services, they need to collaborate with the police to ensure security and safety of commuters. Besides, working out schedules, routes, frequency and staff positioning are Herculean tasks.

Currently, the Corporation operates the night services to Outer Ring Road and outer areas between 4 pm and 10 pm. The buses are then parked on the outskirts of the City. The next day, the bus crew start their schedule at the same time again.

Transport department officials entrusted with the responsibility of curbing the illegal operations, say that most of these private vans and mini buses/maxicabs are hired on contract basis by mediating agencies and not by the companies directly. These vehicles have Public Service Vehicle (PSV) permit to ferry only the employees.

However, as a practice, majority of these vehicle pick up passengers waiting at the bus stops at night at much cheaper fares than BMTC buses. The officials claim there is a mechanism to keep a check on these operations, which usually take place at night.”

Transport Commissioner Ramegowda has this to say on the issue: “Everyday, during our enforcement drives, we have been - on an average - booking about 50 such private vans, maxi cabs that are either running without permits or are violating permit norms. However, despite our best efforts, these clandestine operations are being run as there exists a nexus between those who take these vehicles on lease, the owners and even the vehicle financiers. To make easy money, they run hundreds of trips everyday, working as stage carriages.”

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