OPINION

Luxury Metro Transit Buses - Bridging the Economy Gap in Bangalore

April 27, 2006
Kishore

"Dear Passengers, We have arrived at our destination - The Majestic bus stop. Hope you had a pleasant journey. Thank you for traveling by BMTC."

Well, looks like one of those announcements you tend to hear from the cockpit of an aircraft. But in case you thought this was a bus driver's announcement, you are not mistaken.

Gone are the days when you were required to keep an incessant sight on the conductor of an over-crowded sweaty bus to ensure you get back your change. For the first time ever, we see ideas of quality and service penetrating into domestic bus travel in India. Bangalore, in particular. These days, Bangalore has its own fleet of Volvo buses for its domestic metro bus services. And it doesn't just stop at that.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicWhen I got into the Metro Volvo for the first time, with its running LCD display showing the destination and route, the usual luxury of the seating that a Volvo is known for, the near-silent engines, good looking body, air-conditioned interiors, I was pleasantly surprised at its resemblance to the King County Metro transit that I used to commute on from Redmond to Downtown Bellevue during my stint in Seattle, WA. The only difference being the absence of a bicycle carrier at the front of the bus. But then, nobody carries their bicycle on a bus in India.

It was not just the looks and the luxury that caught my attention. The drivers and conductors aboard of the Metro Volvos seem to be provided extra training in hospitality and communication. Before every stop, the conductor announces the arrival of the stop through its built-in Public Address System, tickets come out as a print-out from a Ticket-Vending gadget that hangs around his neck, a Welcome and a Thank you announcement at the beginning and the end of the travel adding all the required spice to an otherwise lackluster travel through Bangalore traffic.

Hospitality and service were never on the priority list of the largely lower and middle class populace traveling in the usual domestic metro buses in India. But with the changing face of the economy, the rise in overall consumer spending power across the classes, low-cost airlines making it affordable for the lower classes to take up air travel, Metro Volvo buses (in Bangalore) which attempt to bring in the flavors of hospitality, luxury and enhanced safety into lower/middle class arena hitherto unseen in the country, we do notice a pattern emerging.

The giant strides in the overall economy is just beginning to show its first effects at the lower echelons of the country and eventually trying to bridge the economic divide between the haves and the have-nots that runs through the country. There's still a lot of work to be done, but the first signs are certainly encouraging.

Kishore is a techie based in Bangalore. When he's not writing software, he spends his time writing himself out trying to understand the perfection of reality. Read his musings over life, nature, music and the art of living at Dayswork.
eXTReMe Tracker
Keep reading for comments on this article and add some feedback of your own!

Comments! Feedback! Speak and be heard!

Comment on this article or leave feedback for the author

#1
Sujatha
URL
April 27, 2006
05:42 AM

Kishore, thank you for this info! I was wondering what those buses were, now I know. :) A photo would be great. Please consider uploading one.

#2
Kishore
URL
April 27, 2006
01:17 PM

Sujatha, sure I'll try to get hold of a photo.

#3
kris
URL
April 28, 2006
03:53 AM

One day i also waited & waited for the bus before it finally came...
i didnt 've my camera at that time to click pictures..
chk out my blog fr more..

http://krisathish.blogspot.com/2006/04/bmtc-volvo-ac-bus.html

#4
GB
URL
April 29, 2006
07:59 AM

guess what? did the riots in bangalore affect these volvos?

#5
Kishore
URL
April 29, 2006
11:45 AM

I guess they grounded all Volvos that day.

#6
Vishwas
April 30, 2006
12:24 AM

Here is a picture of the BMTC's Volvo bus

http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=136861642&size=o

#7
Kishore
URL
April 30, 2006
12:32 AM

Thanks for sharing the photo Vishwas.

#8
Aaman
URL
April 30, 2006
12:37 AM

Incorporated the image in the article, thanks

#9
Aaman
URL
April 30, 2006
12:39 AM

Why do they need a conductor? Why don't they have the same model as in public transport in the US, where you pay when you enter near the bus operator before you sit down?

#10
AkaRoundPeg
URL
April 30, 2006
01:25 AM

Tell us more about this service.

In my time, the public transport was called BTS - Bangalore Torture Service! There was no accountability, drivers and conductors were free to skip a service if they liked and often you found them in tea shops lingering over a coffee while hundreds waited out at the bus stops.

#11
Sujatha
URL
April 30, 2006
02:59 AM

This bus looks really cool. There is no over-crowding from what I can see. Kishore, is it true that this service costs a minimum of Rs. 10 (i.e., from one stop to the next)? That may be one of the reasons why it's not overcrowded. The seats look really comfortable and the bus looks roomy.

#12
Kishore
URL
April 30, 2006
03:48 AM

Sujatha,
It is true the price of a ticket is higher than that of the usual buses. But the bus in the photo does not look crowded, because that looks stationed at the Majestic Bus stop. :) The couple occasions when I took the bus, it was full (there were even 4-5 standing). But not over-crowded.

That was my whole point on the increase in spending power of an average Indian Middle class. Despite higher priced tickets the buses run full. Awed by the success BMTC is also planning to rope in 50 more (yep, 50!!) buses to ply different routes.

#13
Sujatha
URL
May 1, 2006
02:46 AM

Hi Kishore, I was talking about the buses I've seen on the streets - they weren't overcrowded. I see what you mean about the ticket prices.

#14
Kishore
URL
May 1, 2006
11:31 AM

Sujatha,
Cool! :)
Did ya try traveling on one yet?

#15
Minase
URL
May 12, 2006
02:48 AM

Kishore,
There is another line of thought to this. I would rather call it "Explosion of Options" rather than Bridging the Economic gap. Because this service isnt made affordable for the regular bus taker but an extention to all those who can afford it. Which means this is another option and doesnt necessarily bridge the economic gap.

Minase

Add your comment

(Or ping: http://desicritics.org/tb/1568)

Personal attacks are not allowed. Please read our comment policy.






Remember Name/URL?

Please preview your comment!