Friday, February 02, 2007

Of buses and BPO cabs

On the outskirts of old Bangalore and well within what is defined as "New Bangalore", you will find a few boards like this. "Call centre/BPO vehicles are prohibited from carrying public passengers." Companies expressly prohibit cabs from giving rides to ordinary people on the street who are not employees - especially on their "empty" trips. But there are a few drivers who make the extra money and then again, security risks notwithstanding, they are quite comfortable.

Why would the police put up such a board? Surely due to security and to signal that they are doing their job by giving adequate warnings. (Why is the board in English, big question)
Why would the public use these vehicles - most of them know the risks associated given the current milieu all around. Simple. The alternative is what you see below.

Crowded, smoke belching old truck chassis with a box passing off as a passenger carrier and no room anywhere. This is also a Bangalore, a Bangalore the government routinely ignores - no, not in favour of IT companies - but a Bangalore that is ignored because thats how Bangalore has always been - ignored. Ignored technology - IT - ring a bell? And then people wonder why IT companies provide transport. This form of transport, is a form, even poultry chicken doesn't deserve.

So, where are the buses? Volvos notwithstanding, public transport in Bangalore is abysmal. Surely, these private "buses" dont deserve to run? Not just because they look bad or are basically scrapped refurbished vehicles. They drive rashly, are ill maintained, polluting and generally a nuisance on the road. And perhaps, their owners - the poor bus owners have the right connections. They buy the buses for cheap, run them using cheap labour and laugh all the way to the jewellery shops and land (two favourite avenues for black money). But then again, where are the buses? That will be a story for some other time.

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