Pvt bus operator’s WhatsApp helpline brings changes

Pvt bus operator’s WhatsApp helpline brings changes

A sticker inside a private city bus in Mangaluru encouraging passengers to lodge complaints and pictures on the WhatsApp helpline.

In an attempt to provide a platform for people to air their complaints against the private city buses in the district, the Dakshina Kannada Bus Operators Association (DKBOA) has created a new WhatsApp group, where people can post their complaints against any private bus, driver or conductor.

Over 60 per cent of the phone calls at the Commissioner’s phone-in-programme, in the past, consisted of complaints against the private buses. Therefore the bus owners decided to launch this self-regulating initiative. 

Sushmitha (name changed), who works as a counsellor, suffered humiliation at the hands of a rude conductor while travelling in a private bus in Attavar. When the humiliation kept haunting her, she decided to bring it to the attention of the authorities and brought up this issue at the Commissioner’s phone-in programme.

Passengers, who are not keen on airing their grievance at the phone-in-programme, can now post their complaint or picture on the WhatsApp helpline. When a passenger uploads a complaint on the helpline, it is immediately forwarded to the bus owners.

Complaints flow

“The complaint had begun pouring in even before the association had completed the exercise of pasting stickers with the Whatsapp helpline number in about 350 private city buses,”  DKBOA president Dilraj Alva said. He added that the initiative had begun to show positive results.

After the initiative was launched, the number of complaints against private city buses in CoP’s phone-in-programme has reduced noticeably, Alva said.

Alva recollected that a complaint against a bus skipping trips to Pachhanady was filed through the helpline. It was later revealed that the bus was skipping trips as railway department had installed a manned crossing. Now we are working on solutions to ensure that the bus reaches the place, he added.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Manjunath Shetty, however, is skeptical over expecting any changes out of this drive.”It is difficult to discipline the private buses,” he shrugged with a smile.

‘Useful to passengers’

Sushmitha described DKBOA’s initiative most useful to passengers who regularly travel by city buses and do not want to take the trouble of filing complaints with the police. “The pictures of drivers or conductors misbehaving with passengers when uploaded on the helpline, will certainly instill a fear in their minds.

The platform can also be used to make suggestions on increasing efficiency and passenger comfort,” she said.

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