As staff shortage has begun to affect operations, the BMTC will introduce conductor-less services on routes with officials working on identifying 500 routes where the absence of a conductor doesn’t make any negative impact.
The Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has a shortage of crew, especially drivers, which has resulted in more than 500 buses remaining off the road. This has in turn led to reduction in the number of services compared to the pre-Covid schedules.
“We need at least 2,000 crew to scale up the operations to match the pre-pandemic services. Since our financial condition doesn’t permit us, we have decided to deploy conductor-only services on some routes. This is also in line with the one-man committee’s recommendation to shift to driver-only services in the long run,” a senior official said.
The corporation has already resorted to conductor-less buses on some routes due to shortage of crew. However, this had not been formalised till now. Officials are looking for routes based on guiding principles. Buses on routes which do not see crowds, those running part time after providing chartered services and routes where the number of tickets sold are less will be selected.
“The Vayu Vajra services are largely not crowded. Similarly, the AC services (Vajra) also do not require a conductor on many routes. There are some routes where pass holders are dominant, resulting in low-ticket revenue. We will pick some routes on a pilot basis before scaling it up to 500 routes. Empirical data will be studied before making such decisions,” the official explained.
Additional pay for drivers
The BMTC has decided to pay an additional 3% on salary and Rs 75 per day as incentive to drivers who take up such assignments without a conductor. Sources in the BMTC said the arrangement will help the drivers earn about Rs 5,000 to 6,000 more, depending on the salary and revenue from the route.
As per the report of the one-man committee led by M R Sreenivasa Murthy, the four road transport corporations, including BMTC, have a shortage of 16,969 staff against the sanctioned strength of 1.24 lakh. The report had recommended that the corporations should start introducing technology to cut down on the need for conductors, who can then be shifted to vacant posts.
However, officials believe the introduction of technology like automatic fare collection requires time besides capital investment.
“Unlike inter-city bus service where passengers travel long distances, thereby requiring minimal ticketing between origin and destination points, city services require technology to cater to passengers onboarding at every other stop. We need to study it in detail and take up some pilot projects to understand the ground realities,” the official said.