Saturday, August 30, 2008

Walk right back

So I finally conceded my personal and private stand against putting one more car on the road and walked into a showroom to buy my first car. The distances are not commutable any other way, not if I want to do more than get to the office and back, and do that with some sanity left.

A recent survey says that most Bangaloreans will not give up their own vehicle for public transport; they won't even car pool. One of the reasons cited is that there aren't enough buses. This is patently untrue. There is a plentiful and well-connected bus service. There are even different classes of bus travel for the more fastidious. The perceived lack of buses is the result of other, very real, very visible problems.

1. Bus-stops
They have shelters that look good but aren't much use when it rains and too small for peak hour crowds. This leads to large numbers of people milling around on the road around the bus-stops getting in the way of the people in the cars – not one of whom, unsurprisingly, is inspired to risk the bus. There are no signboards that indicate what route numbers come there or where they go. So someone who's new to the city has a bad experience to begin with and will of course get some own steam as soon as possible.

2. Behaviour of bus drivers
Buses do not always stop at the bus stops, they stop about fifty meters before or after. Nor do they wait to see if anyone is hurrying to catch the damn thing. It makes the whole experience needlessly stressful. The driver's job is complicated by the fact that bus-stops are often situated too close to turnings, exits or traffic lights. If the driver has a green light he won't bother stopping. If it's red, he will open the doors at the light and passengers have to negotiate traffic to the safety of the footpath. Which brings us to…

3. Footpaths
There aren't any. What we have are disaster areas – unpaved mudslides, unevenly paved obstacle courses, booby traps with bloody great holes in them. Taking public transport involves walking a bit and I was forced to get new shoes that violate all my aesthetic sensibilities because my beloved skinny heels are unsuitable for cross-country adventures (I had a few).

4. Behaviour of auto drivers

This is why nobody will car pool. You don't want to be left dependent on them. There are some good ones but mostly they don't bother with meters, demand whatever comes into their heads and generally make getting from A to B more difficult than it has to be.

These things are much quicker and simpler to solve than building a metro or a flyover. So why not just do it?

Walk Right Back, Everly Brothers, 1961


kochuthresiamma P J said...

how well u have diagnosed the situation -bangalore seems 2 b only a shade better than kerala in this regard.

Sue said...

Ah but Mina - building flyovers does not involve behavior change or the maintenance of anything.... so after a while, the flyover starts to fall apart....

Where do you make money doing any of those things, so what political incentive is there to do it?

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