Sunday, February 07, 2010

Upgrading public transport

A cursory glance at this blog will tell you that I am a big fan of public transport and its current upgradation in most cities in the country.

Bangalore is one of those places, like most other smaller cities in India that has a love hate relationship with public transport among the people like us category. They love public transport as long as other people take them and hate public transport if they have to travel on them. (The big metros are a bit of an exception.)

Now this is not anything out of the ordinary. Public transport was bad over the 70s and 80s and no form of public transport was ever known to be comfortable. And, most people start off by using buses and get frustrated about the crowds and wait time. Somehow they manage with buses till they reach age 16 and then they start on their two wheelers and from then on it is a journey of upgradation to various two wheelers and then to a car - which then takes over as a status symbol of not having to travel in buses. At some point, buses are known only as traffic hazards in the minds of people.

This is a pity. Because in the meantime, public transport in the city has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of both quality and quantity and if you are willing to walk a bit or wait a bit (both of which are "big" in peoples minds), it is actually more comfortable than your car - you can read a book or even doze off in the airconditioned comfort. And then, you dont have to search for a place to park.

And while initiatives like Bus day are a great idea, I think it is important to use these Volvos as moving billboards too. Eco friendly messages like - All the people on this bus left their cars and bikes at home. Or, paint the picture of a few bikes and a cars on a bus, saying - I saved the city from x amount of pollution. Or, a billboard on the Volvos saying, this ride is more comfortable than your car or bike. Or figuring out easy ways to tell people of how much time they need to wait for a bus is a smart idea of getting more people to use public transport. The message of upgraded and comfortable public transport has to be spread for more people (PLU) to start using public transport...

Try getting stuck in a traffic jam in your own car crawling in first gear and jumping lanes and in a Volvo bus and see the difference.

And while on buses - I am not impressed with Marco Polo buses as much as the Volvos. Tatas, please work on them to make rides on them a little more silent and vibration free...

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