Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Travelling Bangalore...

Ok...so I'm in shock.

Ever the do-gooder I chanced upon a colleague who lives at the absolute other end of town and thought I'd be cute and give her a travel tip. "Do you know that there is a Volvo bus that leaves from Chandra Layout and goes right up to Indiranagar?" I beamed!

Uma, for that is her name, brought me right down to earth..."Yes" she smiles "but its very expensive..from Richmond Road to HAL it would cost me 25 rupees".

25 rupees! Now thats a lot of money, if she travelled on this bus everyday to work the poor woman would loose a good chunk of her salary.

My colleague Priya and I have been raving about the Volvo buses in Bangalore for a while now,
on how neat and efficient they are, how bright and beautiful, and how wonderful it would be if the entire fleet of public transport buses in Bangalore were Volva. Apparently however, this is not going to be very possible, since if we converted the entire fleet to Volvo's we would only have the rich and upper middle class travelling in these buses!

This entire episode has only confirmed a fear that I have had about the possibilities of a public transport system for India's urban spaces. One, there is no interest in such a system since hte rich and the upper middle class, and the middle class in busy imitation need to assert their difference from the rest of the population. Two, where efforts are made at public transportation, it will operate in a manner as to exclude the poor and the working class from its operation, reserving the swanky additions for the middle class. And so it will go on, India's pernicious caste system, taking new forms every day. While I was a student in Bangalore, you had the Pushpak buses which promised, thanks to a higher fare, that you did not have to stand with the stinky and smelly folk, and could travel in relative comfort. From the Pushpak to the Volvo not much has changed at all...

There have already been fears expressed that Bangalore's proposed Metro will be way to expensive for the working class who do not earn the fancy salaries that the techies do...but then perhaps thats what the Metro is intended for...the working class sods...let them find their own way!


Gargoyle said...

In the general scheme of things it's okay to have an elitist transport option (it is after all just a step up from different classes of travel in the same vehicle). But it should only be luxury that is optional, not efficiency. The rest of the public transport should be overhauled to be more effective.

For about 10 years I travelled from Whitefield to Mount Carmel, and then from Whitefield to various places of work by BTS bus. The Volvo is a most exciting development, though I don't even live there anymore!

Jason Keith Fernandes said...

In the general scheme of things Gargoyle? Unfortunately we are not talking of a general scheme of things. You may not have noticed but the newly purchased Volvos have been monopolised by Kingfisher (within the airport), by the fancy companies to transport their employees. This is of course a certain kind of public transport, but the basic system seems to have remained the same. The regular buses are not disabled, or senior citizen friendly, the buses are over-crowded, the new pnematic doors are a death-trap waiting to happen - i should know, i nearly got impaled on one!

Perhaps if we focussed on treating the common- non-IT, elite- person as if they were worth comfortable travel we could reconcile ourselves to different classes of travel. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be happening.