[Unsung Heroes] A candid chat with a BMTC conductor

Today, I had the luck of having a candid chat with a BMTC Volvo conductor at Shanthinagar. Here is a quick summary of what all I learned:

  • Lack of confidence in the new ticketing machines: The new Verifone ticket machines [procured by Trimax, yes the same Trimax who set up BEST’s system]. Apparently, these new machines hardly last for the sale of 100 tickets before the battery dies out. This, happens on a full charge after being plugged in for 6 hours. The earlier Quantumn Aeon machines, still being used by KSRTC lasts a full two days on a full charge. The new machines are also prone to system crashes, and lack of connection to the server. He equated the new ETMs with the AC Tata Marcopolo buses, which frequently broke down [similar to BEST’s Purple Faeries].
  • Frequent breakdowns due to complete lack of maintenance: He said that all buses, including the Corona and Volvo fleet were not maintained at all and were prone to breakdowns, especially on Airport services. If a bus broke down on the road, it would lead to them getting a Challan from the Traffic Police, and if it happened in a Bus Station, BMTC would issue a memo. The fines would get deducted from the salaries of both the driver and conductor. Due to this happening, cases of staff committing suicide has also seen a significant rise. He mentioned that these would go unreported more often than not.
  • Actions taken on faulty parts: When any LED display got spoiled, conductors and depot workers normally try to fix it. They have gained knowledge on fixing the circuit after years of experience. However, if the administration, got wind of it, they’d junk it and procure a fresh piece which would normally cost anywhere from ₹50,000 to ₹1,50,000.
  • Kickbacks while purchasing buses: Apparently, babus and politicians have got huge kickbacks while buses were purchased, resulting in losses to the exchequer.
  • Lack of attention from higher ups: Complaints about faulty equipment, breakdowns, etc go unheard. Staff is supposed to fill out their feedback and personnel details and put in into a box, which goes unseen for ages.

Overall, he said that BMTC alone could fill a book in terms of mismanagement, maladministration, and general negligence on the part of the higher officials.

He further added, that due to the additional 6% Luxury tax charged by the government, which BMTC has not yet integrated into the Electronic Ticketing System, conductors have to sell the extra surcharge as paper tickets and keep a stagewise log of these extra tickets being sold.

I was told that the reason BMTC discarded the earlier machines for the new one was to enable RFID integration for the near-future Smart Card rollout, which is rather strange, because according to MicroFx and Quantum Aeon,the ETMs used earlier were RFID enabled.

 

That is all in this post. A follow up post on the BMTC ITS will come soon.

 

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Author: Srikanth

BEST? Bus! Vroom, *pulls bellpull* Hi, I'm Srikanth. I'm a freelance media fellow with a fascination for buses, toll plazas, fire trucks and drones.

6 thoughts on “[Unsung Heroes] A candid chat with a BMTC conductor”

  1. Pingback: Samarpan
  2. Terrific one.
    Are you wuth Bus Rider’s association….that had GV Dasharathi.
    The LED Stuff is eye-opening. Castmaster Inc, which supplies these LED Panels is strangely in Punjab…not anywhere nearby Bangalore. Looking name of bigwig at BMTC, do I sniff something..

    What a nameplate would do well (needs a tubelight during night-times….), these costly LED panels can’t do.

    1. Hi Siddappa, no I’m not with GV Dasharathi, but I can be seen lurking on Skyscrapercity, mostly on the Mumbai and Pune forums.

      As for Castmaster, IMHO it is the best product among the three Displays BMTC/BEST/Others used. THe worst was Alliance Autometers due it poor visibility. Hanover, which the Volvo fleet began using is not great, simply because it would switch or rescroll the content in the middle. If the display is showing the entire route of Bus. No 365, it would blink half way and show the entire thing again. Castmaster Mobitech was one of the panels shortlisted by JnNURM as an eligible component manufacturer. BEST, DTC, PMPML, and MTC also use it. It is cheaper because is made in Punjab. Hanover used to be imported from the UK, but now is made by Power Electronics in Pune but is still expensive because of the licencing for the brand name.

      I personally prefer the LED to a nameplate because it is in principle, a better instrument. It can scroll a Route which a nameplate would not be able to do because of lack of space. Further, it can be used to switch languages. The only display I’d prefer over them is the Rolling Display used by BEST but its main limitation was the number of routes that could be printed on a sheet of cloth.

      Ironically, BMTC has the most functional LEDs in India. BEST once consulted BMTC because their display kept going kaput. The reason was soon established: BEST washed the interior and exterior of the bus every other day, while BMTC did it once in a few months, that too only the exterior.

      I hope I’ve managed to answer your post. 🙂

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