Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together – Vincent Van Gogh

Posts tagged ‘Transport’

Madness on wheels


Aauto-rickshaw

In a hurry to get some place, who hasn’t stepped out looking to hail an auto rickshaw or an auto as it is more commonly called. These three wheel vehicles are characteristic of East and South East Asia. They are a vital means of inter city connectivity all over India and are a reliable source of transport in rural areas as well. But for all their convenience, these little black and yellow vehicles that so mob any city in the country are also a source of major irritation. Now I can virtually see you nodding your head in agreement!. While autos are an excellent method of getting you to your meeting, office, home, mall, market or pub, in no time at all, the entire system could well do with a major overhaul.

People from every city will have their own tales to narrate about the autos in their respective place, but I will be cribbing about the autos in Bangalore. So let me warn you right here and now that if you’ve not quite ready to read yet another cribbing post, take off to another blog! 🙂

While an auto may be available all at times of the day and most times of the night, sunshine, hail or storm, they function on their own whims and fancies. Now this is a particularly bad thing for Bangalore, the IT capital of the country. People, be it Indian or foreigners have much higher expectations from Bangalore, and why not, when the only image projected of the city is huge glass encased IT buildings, fabulous malls, restaurants, pubs etc and god help if you should have to step out of one of these glitzy places and don’t have your own car waiting for you. The next best option is to hail an auto. And what stops before you?, well well, an ill maintained 3 wheeler, the driver scruffy, quoting a (much much higher) fare, when in effect he should be turning on the meter, and what adds insult to injury is when the auto guys tongue swishes side to side like a cows tail!.

Over crowded auto

This situation is pathetic when you realize that these auto drivers are the public face of the city, so when you have an ill mannered, ill tempered, foul mouthed driver, its bound to shock the socks off any visitor to the city and paint a sorry picture of Grand Bangalore.

All autos are registered with the Department of Transport and so have a certificate which is pasted in the auto. The certificate should have the driver’s mug shot, his name and address, the vehicle number for which the certificate is given. The driver’s blood group- which is never filled in- and the date of issue. If you find that an auto does not have this certificate it is best not to risk it and thus avoid the auto. But on numerous occasions, the details of the auto driver on the certificate do not match that of the current driver. Probably the certificate was given away or simply sold off to the new owner?

Auto traffic

Secondly, places like Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai have a huge density of autos on their streets and Delhi has done a wonderful thing by getting all the autos to switch over to LNG. This has drastically reduced carbon emissions and made the once highly polluted Delhi air much cleaner. Bangalore has a similar plan to get their autos to switch over to LPG but it has not been enforced, and I don’t think city planners should wait for the white haze to hang over the city and asthma cases to rise, before they take action. Bangalore would be a better place if their autos ran on LNG.

Another issue that I simply hate is when auto drivers hike the fare, for stupid reasons like that its raining!. If you live in a largely residential areas and they’ve not likely to get passengers for on their return trip, in all likelihood they will refuse to drop you to your destination. On numerous occasions the driver was unkempt and foul mouthed, making me and I’m sure all other women, feel very unsafe. Infact most people in Bangalore would advise you against an auto after 9.00 p.m, simply because the guy could be drunk!.

Ask two wheeler drivers and they’ll recount more horror stories about autos. For one, autos don’t have and so dont use indicate lights!. They rarely signal and could simply zip on to the wrong side of the road to pick up a passenger who has flagged them, or simply stop bang in the middle of the road, causing the vehicles behind to brake sharply, if not bump into the auto. Once, a friend of mine nearly crashed into an auto as he stopped suddenly with no indication. She went alongside the driver and asked him why he hadn’t signaled, and without batting an eyelid he replied, that of course he had signal, hadn’t she seen his foot!!!!!!, we laughed for days, but my friend could have been injured had she rammed the auto.

Introducing some positive change

  1. The auto guys must have at least a 3 day training on how to deal with customers. How to dress, look clean and bathed. How to speak, especially to women passengers, they need to be taught a little sensitivity, especially to be shown towards children, senior citizens and people with disabilities.
  2. The Department of Transport must check the auto certificates to ensure they are being driven by the same person who has been issued the certificate. So there must be a flying squad checking on this.
  3. The certificate given to the auto driver must have information on whom to complain to and get the auto drivers license revoked should he talk rudely, over charge, or drive rashly.
  4. This complaint form should also be online, so filing a complaint is made easy.
  5. Autos must switch over to LNG and the Govt. could subsidize the kits to reduce the financial burden on the drivers.

If autos are brought under the sharp vigil of the Government, people will have a safe and pleasant journey, the auto guys will make more money and people will not rush to take their cars out every time they want to travel, this reduce the congestion.

But wait! If after reading this piece you have somehow got this idea that all auto drivers are jerks or that’s what you think I’m imply, sorry, not at all. I’ve met some extremely nice guys, polite and helpful and these are the guys that need to be recognized, so if I had a contact to the Department of Transport, I’d send them a positive feedback too 🙂

KSRTC

KSRTC takes passengers on a bumpy

ride

When one boards a regular blue and white, half wrecked Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus its easy to forget that you are in the IT capital of India. When you encounters their unkempt cheating conductors, some of whom even smell of alcohol, it is easy to forget that this is Bangalore and mistake these conductors for some rowdies that so litter the city.

bus_crowd1I have been using the KSRTC buses for all of the two and a half years I have been in Bangalore, and have even traveled on them to rural districts, and they infuriate me to no end for the gross insensitivity and blatant cheating.

A while back I was heading to work, as usual in a packed bus, overflowing with people heading to work and to schools. On the way an on coming bus signaled that there were inspectors ahead checking for tickets. The conductor quickly screamed out and told everybody that they must have tickets, he even stopped the bus so he was heard. Later when the ticket inspector came checking a poor old lady, probably working as a maid was fined as she didn’t have a ticket. The poor lady of course insisted she had paid the fare, and I am sure she had, but she didn’t have a ticket, because she hadn’t paid the full fare. This is a common practice, where the conductor charges lesser than the required and the passenger is not given a ticket. The conductor then pockets the money. This episode however ended with the ticket inspector asking the lady to pay a fine. For a lady who probably earn somewhere from Rs 75 to Rs 100 a day, the fine of Rs 60 was a large amount, I guess she lost the better part of her wages that day.

Now even though more and more people have their own private transport, there is still a sizable percentage of us who still depend on the good old buses and the conductors I’m sure make more than a few hundreds each day just cheating the KSRTC and passengers, and to think that there are thousands of these buses cheating the KSRTC, per day, one could safely guess the figures run into lakhs. But the people are poor, they struggle to earn and for the desire of saving a few rupees end up fueling the corrupt system. In all of two and a half years, I have encountered ticket inspectors just twice, which means that there is a largely unmonitored system. If one goes into who gains from all this cheating, the spread of the corruption would be far and high reaching.

As if the morning experience was not bad enough, when I was returning home that very day, an elderly man gave the conductor a smaller sum than was due, as the fare. With checking stringent, the conductor yelled at the man, asking him if this was the amount that was to be expected. He asked the passenger if he did not hear about the checking by the flying squad, and grumbled that passengers like him get KSRTC bus conductors into trouble. But who has habituated these passengers to paying lesser than the required fare. I myself have had numerous experiences of being changed less, even though I have handed over the correct fare. On other occasions I have paid the fare but not been given a ticket.

bus_21A recent experience which simply got my goat was when I got into this bus KA-01-F-3487, it was a short trip and I was required to pay the conductor Rs 5. I didn’t have change so I gave him 3 coins of Rs 2 each. He gave me the ticket but didn’t give me the change, I asked him once and he ignored me, I asked him again and he ignored me. That’s when I realized he meant to keep the change and it obviously got me angry. Why did this SOB have to act like a beggar and pocket a buck, more so when I am asking for it? Finally, my stop came and he still hadn’t give me the change, I screamed and told him to hand over my change to which he said, what madam it’s only a rupee. This is how thick skinned and shameless KSRTC bus conductors are.

The sad moral of this episode is that, it reduces the dignity of not just the passenger but the conductor as well, reduces them to bickering over a rupee. Of course the rupee does not mean much to me, but the experience means thousands of rupees, it gives me an insight into the rot and helps me pull off this stupid façade of the IT capital of India, that at the end of the day it is just another corruption ridden city albeit with all its cheap makeup.

It also explains why more and more people are opting for private transport. But the more people buy private vehicles, the more will be the traffic jams, the pollution and of course more avenues for corruption. With the middle and upper middle class opting for private transport, the public transport system is loosing its vocal passengers and it is so much easier to cheat simple, uneducated, poor people.

If somebody from the KSRTC is reading this, please try to straighten out the system, putting Volvos on the road and reducing fares to Rs 1 is no answer at all, it is only a marketing gimmick.

What we need are :

  • More flying squads to keep a check of errant bus conductors and passengers,
  • More money, from the crores earned by the KSRTC, on educating passengers about the fare and how to insist on their ticket, besides urging them not to fuel corruption.
  • Training to bus conductors and drivers; urging them to be service oriented and honest. It would do well to also pay these guys more so they don’t need to sponge off the system.

And for Gods sake, don’t give your usual set of ‘I’m-just-a-cog-in-the-wheel’ excuses, get off your butt and do something.

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