Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Maxi cabs...

This weeks issue of Business World India has a story on infrastructure. One of the pictures it has is of Bangalores crowded ( Asias largest, for the record) central bus stand. Since the new government came into power, basic necessities like paving a road have been forgotten. This has been written about in a thousand other places, this one is about the maxi cabs that ply in the city.

Maxi cabs as the name suggests are mini vans or a big cabin on wheels which are authorised to carry about 12 passengers. In reality they carry a lot more. They pack passengers worse than luggage ( and people obligingly get into these vans) into it and usually charge a rupee less than the bus service. These maxi cabs are nuisances on roads. They are old ramshackle vehicles, staffed more often than not by child labour and are dangerous as they are inside to those outside. They ply on the road with a disregard to most rules. They stop anywhere they please ( to misquote PGW, even if someones eyebrow twitched, they race from the centre of the road to the side in the hope that he would get in). They solicit passengers with open doors at speeds of about 3 kmph but keep on interminably waiting in front of bus stops or any such place. (Hope to put in a picture here soon)

So, why do they ply? I have no idea. I can hear the usually heard choruses of unemployment and public transport, but both reasons are wrong. True, some chaps get employment, but they are exploited by those who ( some rich man who knows how to bend the rules) own these things. Public transport, did someone say ? If so, get rid of the BMTC buses.

If this is the state in "Indias Silicon valley", infrastructure is a long long way off in any other part of the country (Mumbai, NCR and Chennai are marginally better off).

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