Commuters in the City have no end of complaints against the BMTC bus drivers — unscheduled stops, altered routes and rash driving figuring prominently in the list. It’s surprising, though, how many of these issues can be addressed to a certain extent by simply introducing a better system of monitoring.
In fact, several Bangaloreans feel that by keeping a better check on drivers, the BMTC can ensure that they toe the line and don’t inconvenience commuters by altering routes according to their whims and fancies.
On its part, the body is attempting to do so by equipping every bus with a GPS tracking device, which will be monitored from a control room.
“We have already given the work order and plan to install GPS devices in our fleet of 6,500 buses,” explains Anjum Parwez, managing director of the BMTC. “This will take between seven and eight months. We will have a full-fledged team in the central control room, who will be constantly monitoring the movement of the buses. We’re going to employ a two-way system of communication — that way, our officials can talk to the drivers and instruct them,” he adds.
In general, this move is being hailed as a step in the right direction.
Pratul Mukhopadhyay, a professional who commutes by bus everyday, belongs to this school of thought.
“One problem I face in the Volvos that have recently been introduced is that they don’t travel the entire route. Instead of going to the last stop, the drivers end the route a few stops previously and reschedule from there. This could either be because they don’t anticipate any passengers in the last few stops or simply for their convenience,” he explains. In addition to introducing electronic surveillance, he feels there should be better monitoring at the last stop.
“Most depots have an officer who keeps a check on when the drivers return. They should ensure that the drivers aren’t cutting corners,” he adds. Lata, a software engineer, agrees that equipping buses with GPS devices will definitely help ensure that commuters have a smoother ride.
However, she also feels that the success of this initiative depends on how well it’s implemented.
“It isn’t just about equipping the buses — the BMTC should ensure that they are monitored properly after that. There should be a proper system in place so that if any driver is found deviating from his route, he is immediately contacted and if needed, penalised,” she says.
However, not everyone is convinced of the usefulness of this plan. Aditya Prabhakar, a software engineer, points out that bus drivers are often compelled to cut corners and skip stops because they’re running on a tight schedule.
“It isn’t easy for them to maintain a fixed schedule. Traffic conditions aren’t good and the roads aren’t great — often, they are errant simply because of that. It isn’t that they’re not doing their job; I feel that they often drive rashly only to meet their targets,” he explains.
“Equipping buses with GPS devices will help keep track of them, but one can’t expect it to solve the problem of constancy,” he concludes.