Indus is a batchmate from BIT Mesra, an entrepreneur and has recently moved back to Bangalore from the Bay Area. He settled into a huge townhouse, got a car and started rediscovering Bangalore.
I had mentioned to him that I had recently tried using buses again, and had found the BMTC services much better than they used to be and recently, was pleasantly surprised by his complete switch to busing! Over the last week, have met him a couple of times, and he manages to get there by bus each and every time. He waits for a Volvo - and yet has managed to keep his enthusiasm going even as his knowledge of the "inner workings" of the routes, names of stops, passes, etc continues to grow.
I'm impressed with the ease with which he's decided to bus around, and the fact that he's promoting it on Twitter as well!
Here's some answers from the enthusiastic convert himself:
What got u started ?
I always wanted to do bus. But, was scared initially of dust/pollution, people pushing, waiting etc etc. Then I had a scheduling conflict with the family -- They wanted to go somewhere and I had a meeting elsewhere. So, they dropped me at a bus stop and I got a Volvo. Life is better and now I'm on my own busing around. I had the alternative to take autos -- but I hate autos because they're open from both sides and you are sitting next to the tail pipes of other vehicles passing by.
Initial thoughts ?
1. The biggest problem is finding a schedule and the route. The BMTC website, however advanced it maybe, it's still a generation behind.
2. There is a slight chance of getting hit by a passing bike when you are getting-off as the 2 wheelers drive everywhere.
3. Figuring out where the bus would stop was a big pain, coz the bus stop is crowded with people who are getting onto other buses. However, the good part is that driver stops if you wave at him!
Experiment, or becoming a habit ?
Why did u persist ?
I had no option other than a car or an auto. I found that the car is a huge waste of resources for a one person going from a defined point A to point B. Moreover, if you have a driver then you are dependent on his schedule. Moreover, my first few trips were fun -- Also, I was able to chat with random people I met on the bus!
Isn't it painful ? Doesn't it take too much time ?
One may find it painful if he is forced to bus and lacks the enthusiasm. It takes slightly more time if you have to wait for a connection at a bus stop. But, if you carry a GPRS enabled phone and a book in hand, then your waiting time is utilized doing something productive.
What would u like seeing solved ?
1. I would like to see a system route map like this one http://www2.actransit.org/
2. Not all buses have displays -- make it interactive -- auto display of the bus stop/area we are passing by (like the one metro trains have)
3. The GPS system of Volvos are not working because government has not paid the next years subscription fees. Someone needs to fix it.
4. Bus stops need to convey which routes are serviced by them.
5. A lot of morning buses are overcrowded -- I'm not sure whether the govt has a feedback system to increase capacity of those routes during the peak hours.
Why should people do it ?
It's fun, keeps few cars of the road and of course good for the environment.
Tips ? Advice ?
Look at the service related suggestions above. A map is needed desperately to get first timers on board. Lack of information is a major deterrent.
Indus, I wish more people would hop on, stop the excuses and be prepared to make it work. The benefits are huge - lower stress, much lower pollution and congestion, and if enough start doing this, maybe a few will engage with the government for improving things along the lines you've suggested. Hats off dude, and catch you on the next BMTC ride :)