Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The cab strike and a few notes

The last couple of days Bangalore went through a harrowing time. Well, thats wrong. Bangalore did not, but sections of the city, the segment which depends on company transport to reach their places of work did. It has brought out the good and bad side of Bangalore only too well.

Firstly, here companies have to provide transport, otherwise employees will never be able to reach them on time. Of course, they can drive down to work, but given that it is a limited option, companies do provide transport. Public transport in this city is meaningless. You can use it occasionally, but to use it daily especially to offices located on the outskirts is quite difficult. Part of the problem is that Bangalore is a circular city, unlike Mumbai which is linear. So, here, you have people moving from any part of the city to any other part, so there are no clear distinctions between which is a high traffic route and which is a low traffic route. So, to have bus routes that caters to everybody is also out of question. More importantly BMTC makes money by sourcing its buses to companies - so, in the peak hour when the bus services ought to be the most, its buses are busy ferrying employees of companies. Now, before you point fingers at BMTC remember they too have to make money and if this helps them fund and improve services, why not? Hopefully the Metro will get built, but that is still some time away. (The Metro is being built to some arbit specification of Bangalore so ITPL, Electronic city are as far as Hyderabad or Chennai on the route.)

But amazingly, people were seen bike pooling and carpooling and even sharing rickshaws to reach their destinations. On the first day rickshaws made a killing, but on the second day instances of rickshaws asking for too much actually reduced. On the second day, traffic had reduced, perhaps because of all this vehicle sharing.

All in all, the strike has ended and now we can get back to complaining about how rash the cab drivers are and so on and so forth. But, please to be noting, they are an important aspect of work here, if it were not for the cabs and buses, work would be that much more difficult...

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