The ‘auto’crats on our roads

Autorickshaw and private bus drivers have made the lives of BMTC commuters miserable by taking over the bus stops meant for them. Because of this, BMTC buses are forced to stop in the middle of the road, holding up traffic. If this is not enough, some auto drivers pass lewd comments on women waiting for buses. What’s baffling is the absence of policemen at such spots, reports NISCHITH N.

While the city’s roads are heavy with traffic, the absence of an efficient public transport system has led to private vehicles dominating Bengaluru’s landscape. Commuters using the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC)’s  buses  have many reasons to worry, starting from the bus shelters where they are supposed to board them.  

Not only have several  BMTC bus stops been taken over by autorickshaws which have their stands there, but some are also used as pick- up and drop points  by private buses, causing great inconvenience to passengers waiting to board their buses.

Read | Guest column: Our bus stops have become auto stands

With autos and private buses illegally occupying the space meant for them,  BMTC buses are forced to stop in the middle of the road, holding up traffic. If this was not bad enough, some auto drivers have been heard passing lewd comments on girls waiting to board the buses.

“We have seen all this for many years with the traffic police  making no effort to stop either the autos or the private buses from misusing the BMTC bus shelters. The best examples are the Kengeri and Banashankari bus stands,” says Ms Pooja, a regular bus commuter.

Complains Mr R Akshay, a social worker,  “Passengers on BMTC buses are hugely inconvenienced as they find it difficult to get off at the stops owing to the illegally parked autos and rickshaws. The government needs to come up with a strict rule against  autos or private  vehicles using the designated bus stops.”

He suggests that the auto stands should be 50 metres away from the bus stops and a separate auto line, like the one introduced few years ago, should be revived.

Ms Pooja feels that  pre-paid auto stands are the solution. “Every auto driver should pick up passengers from the pre-paid stand . If this rule is not followed the police should fine the auto drivers and also recommend cancellation of their permits,” she says, strongly recommending  that private buses need to be stopped from  entering city limits to put an end to the nuisance they cause.

The traffic police did recently come up with a separate line for autos, which they  were not supposed to cross. But the initiative was withdrawn after several auto unions went on strike saying it could impact their earnings.  

Another good initiative that  collapsed in the face of opposition was the   experiment to stop private bus entering the Central Business District (CBD) for 10 days in 2016.

While this allowed for less congestion in central Bengaluru, nothing came of it and private bus operaters are now freely running their services from Gandhinagar, Anand Rao Circle (Majestic) and Kalasipalayam (KR Market).
With the status quo back in place,  the BMTC bus stops continue to be used by autos, private buses and even food vendors, leaving the passengers, who are they meant for, feeling like the intruders and not vice versa.

It’s time to stop them…

  • Traffic police should stop the autos and private buses from misusing the BMTC bus shelters
  • Auto stands should be 50 metres away from the bus stops and a separate auto line, like the one introduced few years ago, should be revived
  • Private buses should be stopped from entering city limits
  • Auto driver should pick up passengers from pre-paid stands only
  • Police should come up with a separate line for autos, which they are not supposed to cross

When cops look the other way
Every day, Shashi Kumar C, a private employee, ends up waiting close to 20 minutes  for a bus outside the Nayandahalli Metro station to take him to  Kengeri. Although the journey to Kengeri from the Metro station  takes just 15 minutes, the BMTC buses find it difficult to even get to the stop as they are stranded in a sea of  autorickshaws waiting for passengers alighting from its trains, outside it. Consequently, hundreds of passengers like Shashi Kumar, are forced to wait for much longer than they should at the bus stop.

“The wait is not due to the poor frequency of buses, but because these buses can’t reach the bus stop outside the station. The bus may be just a 100 metres away, but will not be able to get to the stop because the entire stretch of road is  blocked by auto drivers,” Mr Kumar complains.

The autos are parked in rows covering the entire bus stop making it hard for even commuters to get past, he explains. “While waiting at the stop, some auto drivers irritate us by asking us to let them take us to our destinations instead of the bus. If we do not reply they keep passing comments and say horrible things,” adds Ms Amrutha Reddy, a regular bus commuter.

Even elsewhere  auto drivers are seen parked near the BMTC bus stops, where they find it easier to pick up passengers.  Ignoring the nearby auto stand, they park by the bus stand, hoping to persuade some of the commuters waiting there, to opt for them instead. “Despite a separate autorickshaw stand allotted by the Bengaluru traffic police, the auto drivers continue to park at the main bus stops, which often end up being chaotic. What is even more appalling is that the authorities are not paying any attention to the traffic congestion caused by the autorickshaws parked at the bus stop,” regret a few commuters, wondering when the authorities will wake up and realise the ordeal they are being put through.



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