Newsletter: Transit Review

Yo folks,

Some of you may be happy, some may be not-so-happy about the fact that this blog does not have email newsletters. To be honest, email newsletters telling people what has been published may or may not work. However, what does work, is a newsletter, one that has some good content.

Presenting, Transit Review. (No, unlike the earlier post about a new magazine titled Transit, this ain’t no joke)

A weekly newsletter, (currently planned for the weekend) Transit Review is basically a a quick write-up of what’s going around in the commuting scene, giving what I hope can be considered a fresh new perspective of transport and commuting. After all, you need to get to work right?

I promise not to spam you, but merely make you read a small write-up (not more than 1,200 words I promise).

So if you think you’re game to be made a Transport Zombie like me:

Go ahead; sign up. Be nice, share this page as well.

Note: If you came from Facebook Instant Articles, you probably won’t be seeing the sign-up form below this. In that case, please visit the following link to sign up:

http://tinyletter.com/TransitReview

powered by TinyLetter

 

Transit Review is proudly powered by a combination of TinyLetter by MailChimp and WordPress. (Not to forget the various buses I take).

Note: Please add the following email address to your contacts to prevent the mail from landing up in your spam or promotions inbox.

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Announcing A New Magazine: Transit!

Hi Folks, it is with great pleasure that we announce a new magazine: Transit!

Transit! will be a web-magazine (using the best Content Management System available – WordPress). It will be based on a Subscription model, however, BESTpedia readers and fellow bus or transport bloggers are entitled to a free subscription for one year using the code BEST100.

Our editor-in-chief will be Ravi Marathe, a retired bus conductor from Maharashtra while our columnists will include several famed transit bloggers from India. We have also invited a few from outside the country to join us.

Unlike other so called transit magazines, we will exclusively focus on transit from the transit point of view. No fake articles talking about luxurious trips only to show you land up at some exotic beach in a foreign country, because for us, luxury is when we get into a bus that doesn’t bounce, although a bouncy bus sometimes becomes a luxury.

A tentative, and badly designed logo was prepared by our inexperienced graphics team last night, and we hope a better one will come out soon.

Transit!
Transit!

We hope you are as excited about this as we are. Till then….

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PS: Skeptical about this new magazine? Well you should be because this report was a part of our April Fool prank. The Transit world has few takers for its own magazine. Unfortunate, but true.

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My Love For Blogging And My Blog

I take on the baton of Blog Love from Ranjini.

I think it’s pretty clear now that I have come to love blogging, the ecosystem and my own blog. Why else would I be blogging if it weren’t for the fact that I love it? I’m not being compelled to blog or forced to blog, but rather, I do it because it’s something that comes from within.

I started blogging back in 2005 as a 13-year old student who had no clue about what to do in life. By that, I mean I wanted to be an engineer or a scientist but I still had no clue about what I wanted to do in order to achieve this. My blog back then was a very random blog, full of nonsense, some bits of “This-content-is-too-old-for-me” stuff, and what not. I sort of went into hibernation when I realised that I had to work hard and study.

In the midst of this working hard(ly) and studying, I ended up co-writing a humour post with my best friend Janvi titled Phases Of Study. It did what it had to do. Remind me of the time I used to write, and that I had a lot of opinions on practically everything around me.

Fast forward to two years ago. I needed a place to voice my opinions. Although I had been on Twitter since 2007, it didn’t seem to make the cut. Interning with a magazine that used WordPress made me think. I loved WordPress. I loved what it could do. It struck me: It’s now or never. Once I finish studies, a job in the media industry would never give me the time or freedom to write the way I wanted to. Thus, I started thinking, what should I blog about? I travel a lot, get bored, and then travel even more, I take the bus everywhere, even if I fly, I spend more time looking at buses at the airport than anything else. That’s it. My Eureka moment was on 3 July 2015 at around 7pm.

Blogging got me places, got me to BNLF, then an internship, then a chance to cover the CII Partnership as well as Make In India Week, and then my job. Today my boss asks me to write an article based on my experiences in transport, something that has expanded to other stuff, resulting in me writing on various topics from cashless transactions to even milk. For those who knew me in 2013; Who would have thought that a 21-year old guy who describe Toll Plazas in great detail would someday write about cows and milk? I didn’t. I certainly didn’t. I’m sure none of you reading this would have thought of it either.

But that’s how it is. Today, my blog, has turned me in a sort of expert on urban affairs, has got me published on a prestigious magazine that was mentored by none other than Rajaji who was one of India’s greatest thinkers, and has also resulted in several other economics based portals accepting my work. I’m just as surprised as you are, believe me.

But enough of me. My blog wouldn’t be my blog if it weren’t for the ecosystem. Not just readers, but other bloggers as well. I’ve been part of two BlogBuddy groups: Inking Pages and Write On, and believe me, while I may not say it, reading others’ opinions does wonders. It reminds me that there is a life beyond these four walls that I sometimes am confined to, or in case of a bus, four sides of the bus.

I love my blog. I love the ecosystem. I love everyone who has helped me become what I am today. Thank you all.

P.S: Thank you Richa. Atleast someone who understands my fascination with buses.

P.P.S: If you like what I write, please ping Janvi, and thank her. I owe a lot to her.

I pass on the baton of Blog Love to Roma.

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100th post!

This is the 100th post on the blog. Yes. 100.

It has been a very interesting journey so far, blogging about buses (and stuff that have no connection to buses but still linking them to buses).

If you want to know why I love buses, I’d suggest you reading an earlier blog post: My Fascination With Buses!

At this juncture, I look back and reflect on a lot of stuff that I have done in the past and where all it has got me. Blogging (especially about Buses) has taken me places and I really am glad about it.

I managed to attend the CII Partnership Summit and Make In India Week earlier this year only because of my blogging skills. I was hired as an intern because my employers were impressed with my blog.

Last year, I managed to see Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden live (not performing music mind you) at BNLF because I was a blogger.

So, a bunch of thanks go around:

  • IndiBlogger: They got the best of me on the blog. Posts for various drives and campaigns from International Toilet Day to the Chennai Floods. Yo can see my IndiVine posts here.
  • BlogChatter: For their wonderful prompts and campaigns, and weekly chats. I’ve met so many fellow bloggers and learnt so much more from them. A special shoutout to my Blogbuddy teams: InkingPages (2.0) and WriteOn (3.0)!
  • Swarajya: For publishing my articles on Transport and matters that affect Urban Life a lot (and for sending some traffic this way). You can read my Swarajya articles here.
  • The Unreal Times: Undoubtedly India’s best satire portal, for giving me chance to make others laugh. You can laugh at my work here.
  • OpIndia: I get to do the unconventional bit of writing. That unconventional stuff can be seen here.

Yes. I’ve come a long way thanks to the writing community at large, and I am really grateful to them. Thank you guys!

And now, for an image of what drove me to start this blog:

BEST Bus No. 56 at Versova Yari Road Bus Station.
BEST Bus No. 56 at Versova Yari Road Bus Station. Image copyright Srikanth Ramakrishnan, CC-BY-SA 4.0 International, available on the Wikimedia Commons.

 

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One Year of BESTpedia: A quick recap #InkingReflections

BESTpedia has turned a year old. I’m just doing a quick recap of what all has happened in the past one year.

The first post went live on 9th July 2015. There has been no looking back ever since. Of course, Analytics didn’t make an appearance till a month later on 19th August. So, there is little hope of finding out what the hit count was that month, but then, the past is the past.

Anyway, moving on, July saw 6 posts, with two highly successful posts on BEST [Electronic Tickets and Curious Case of BEST AC Buses] and one Fiction Post on Bus 8954.

August saw a two really popular posts among others. Branded Bus Services, and Sherlock’s Day Out were both incredibly popular with the latter getting close to 600 shares on StumbleUpon.

September saw some offbeat posts including ideas and a post on temples, and the first entity that wasn’t directly on the blog [later, part of the Stupindex]. Visits dropped from around 800 to 500 a month however.

October saw a rise in the number of hits with six posts. It also marked the first occurrence of a series of several satire posts on the blog. It was in this month that I got to attend IndiBlogger’s #BNLF in Mumbai.

November marked a significant change for the blog. 10 posts were made, the highest per month till date. It was also the first time that number of visits crossed 1000, ending at 1606. It also marked my first major interaction with the IndiBlogger community with their #madeofgreat series of contests.

December continued on the same high as November. Six posts were made, including two on Delhi [where I was working], one on the Chennai floods, 2 on BESTs plans for buses to Imagica and Parking Lots at Depots, and one on the Bullet Train.The last post for 2015, published at 11.45pm on 31-12-15, was a major one on Amaravati, which went semi viral and got the blog loads of shares the next month. A total of 2245 visits came in December.

January got off to a good start, mainly thanks to the spillover traffic from December. It also witnessed the first two guest posts on the blog. A total of five articles were posted, but due to the traction gained by the Amaravati listicle in December, the month saw 3238 hits, a figure that was exceeded only twice after that. In fact, the first one week alone led to a huge spike in the number of hits, with the 1000 mark being crossed in the first week itself.

February saw a slight slump in articles, with the first article coming out at the start of the third week and the only other article in the month coming out on the 28th. The #MakeInIndia article got good traction however, with Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog, as well as the DIPP retweeting my tweet linking to the article.

March saw a slight comeback with 6 posts. The piece on JnNURM buses violating norms was a significantly investigative one, which did get positive feedback from transport lovers. The month saw my first active participation with #BlogChatter as well. The major post of the month however, was the Public Service Announcement produced with my friend Deepak.

April saw 5 posts with one of them being a highly successful guest post by GSR Chaitanya of LoveOfZ about Hyderabad, and a super popular tongue-in-cheek April Fool’s Day post on Taxi services that was quite popular.

May saw 5 posts, with Dork Guru returning to do one more guest post as a follow up to my post. Traffic remained average with 2959 visits. A new feature, titled Unsung Heroes Made an appearance. It also saw the formal creation of The Stupindex as a Table of Contents for all the off-blog inanities around here.

June saw 3450 hits, the highest till date, with a significant amount of traffic coming in from Swarajya Magazine where I had written an article on Highway Strips which was extremely popular. 6 posts were made, including another satire post [BEST Dish of the Day] that got me a comment and a share from Purba Ray. The last article of the month on Zeppelins was also popular after Jayaprakash Narayan of the Lok Satta Party retweeted a link to it on Twitter.

July has so far seen only one article with this one being the second. A total of 70 articles have been posted prior to this with a total of 576 comments and pingbacks/trackbacks. At the time of writing this post, the blog has received a total of 25,320 hits!

It has been a completely amazing ride in the last one year as a blogger. A sincere round of applause for the readers, fellow bloggers, and everyone out there who has encouraged me.

Now a few acknowledgements are in order:

  • Team #Blogchatter: For all the amazing support and motivation. I’m also the Blogstar of the Week!
  • The IndiTeam from IndiBlogger: For all their IndiVine topics that helped me write a lot.
  • Team Swarajya: I did write three major articles for them!
  • The Skyscrapercity India community: I get a lot of ideas for my content from discussions there.

Individuals I need to thank:

  • Janvi: The first person to recognise my flair for writing light humour, and allowing me to co-write this post, way back in 2013.
  • Geetika: For all the motivation, critique, support, and being a victim to me disguising blog links.
  • Nidhi: For all the mentoring, motivation, pep talks and encouragement.
  • Rohini: Again, a lot of support, motivation, and that she is Sherlock’s hooman.
  • Sameer: For all the feedback and encouragement.
  • Deepak: For helping me out with the PSA, and being the first to read my blog posts.
  • Richa: For introducing me to a lot of people in the blogging community which has immensely helped me as a blogger.
  • Gauravi: The first victim of the Stupindex.

And the entire Blogbuddy group; InkingPages consisting of:

I’d strongly suggest going thru the individual links of the various people mentioned above. They’re in many ways responsible for the vibrant environment that I am in.

BESTpedia is now one year old! #InkingReflections Click To Tweet

A quick chart of all the ups and downs the blog has had:

BESTpedia IndiRank stats
BESTpedia IndiRank stats

 

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#TransitIssuesIN – Instagram your Transport Problems with #Blogchatter

So a lot of us have had an issue with Transit in our daily life. Buses may be late, trains may be dirty, autos may overcharge, and the list goes on.

The general solution till a while back would be to call up the Authorities, tell them your problems, let them ignore it and go on.

But not anymore. In today’s age and times, many Government Transcos as well as Private ones are online! You can always send out a tweet and wait till you get a reply. Such is the power of Social Media.

A group of us have planned a Hashtag for this on Twitter and Instagram; #TransitIssuesIN.

Now; the power of Social Media is a well known fact. With more government bodies and private parties getting onto the Social Media bandwagon, it is easy to ensure that this reaches the right person. And Twitter and Instagram, ensure that it remains in Public view, or to be a little legal, ‘On Record’.

How do we go about this?

Simple, let us follow a small procedure.

First, ensure you have a Twitter and Instagram account. Follow accounts of people you know, people who can help share and amplify your content. You can follow me [@Rsrikanth05 on Twitter, @Rsrikanth05 on Instagram], and the blog [@BESTpedia on Twitter].

Second, connect your Twitter and Instagram accounts. Click here to learn how to do so. However, since Twitter doesn’t show photos uploaded to Instagram as native images and only provides a link to Instagram, the best thing to do would be to use IFTTT to link the two. IFTTT [short for IF This Then That], allows you to create a Recipe to make your Instagram photos appear as Native images on Twitter. Click here to find out more about this recipe.

Third, upload your image. Let IFTTT share it on Twitter. Ensure you use the Hashtag: #TransitIssuesIN at the start of your post.

And that’s it. You’re done. Let the power of Social Media take your post up. Let us try and create a revolution that forces these service providers to sit up and take heed of the problems that they often cause, irrespective of whether it is Intentional or Accidental.

#TransitIssuesIN
#TransitIssuesIN

Why Instagram and Twitter?

Simple, both are public platforms [unless you keep your account private, which dilutes the purpose this entire exercise], both are simple, and easy to use. The impact of an image on the human mind is far superior to text, and images are more likely to be viewed in search results on Twitter.

So go ahead, take things forward!

Instagram your Transit problems with #TransitIssuesIN !!! Click To Tweet

A special thanks to Richa [http://subzeroricha.com] for letting me know of the Instagram-IFTTT-Twitter link.

A huge shoutout to #BlogChatter [http://www.theblogchatter.com] for giving me the ideas and the motivation for coming up with this.

 

#TransitIssuesIN with @Blogchatter @aseemrastogi2 @veniceriwe #blogchatter http://bit.ly/INtransissue

A photo posted by Kaboom-wala (@rsrikanth05) on


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[Unsung Heroes] The Mechanics on the Expressway

This happened last week on the Mumbai Pune Expressway.

We had left at around 8.45 from CBD Belapur towards Bangalore. We were driving our Mahindra XUV500. We had reached the Expressway at around 9am. We crossed the Khalapur Toll Plaza by 9.30 and entered the Food Mall to fill up some Diesel and have breakfast.

Once we left, we soon entered the ghat, and reached the lone section of the Expressway that witnesses long pileups during peak hours: The hairpin bends on either side of the Amrutanjan Bridge.

Now, the Amrutanjan Bridge was the site of the Reversing station for the Grand Indian Peninsular Railway [GIPR] back in the days of the British. The station was dismantled when the track took a new route and the bridge, along with a new bridge adjacent to it, became part of the Delhi-Chennai National Highway 48 [the erstwhile Mumbai-Chennai NH 4]. Due it its age, the Archaeological Survey of India [ASI] has refused to give the MSRDC the permission to modify the bridge. The MSRDC subsequently formulated a plan to build a tunnel that would bypass the entire section and hand over the existing stretch entirely to the NH.

The problem with the Amrutanjan Bridge is that the six lane [three per direction] Expressway splits up. The old bridge splits each 3 lane carriageway into two carriageways of 1 lane and 2 lanes. This, coupled with the fact that there is a constant incline in the gradient, plus several sharp bends/hairpin bends and the Khandala tunnel, make driving on this stretch a pain at times. It is not uncommon to see traffic piled up for a few kilometre on either side.

Amrutanjan Bridge
The Amrutanjan Bridge over the Expressway. Image copyright Lok Satta

Now, even though I have been a regular user of the Expressway for the past two years, it has been almost a decade since we drove down in it in a car with luggage. Getting caught in traffic while ascending the ghat was a usual occurrence, mostly happening at night while returning to Pune in a Shivneri, but I have witnessed it once or twice during the day. Having mostly driven on highways in South India for the past few years, the Bhor ghat [the ghat in this stretch], was a bit of an uncommon ground for us. While driving up the slope, the clutch got regularly pressed. After a while, we could smell something burning. We passed it off as engine heat, and turned off the air conditioning and rolled down the windows,  till we began to see smoke coming out of the front. We quickly changed lanes to the left, with one of us standing next to the car and stopping traffic.

A guy on a scooter came over and told us that our clutch was burning and that it needed immediate attention. He also said he would charge us, but only after he fixes it, and we do a test drive. He quickly went under the car, did some tinkering, opened up the bonnet, took out the battery and used water to cool down the clutch. Upon finishing it, he drove the car up for a while, with his associate taking his scooter and following us. We did a test drive as well till the Kalra exit after which we paid him and left. He assured us that the clutch was in good condition for a drive upto Bangalore.

We decided to go for a second opinion and stopped at the Mahindra service centre at Wakad in Pune. Initially, he just smelt it and said the clutch would require replacement which could take 6-8 hours, depending on the load. He then took it into the service centre to check the condition of the clutch. After a while, he came and told us that the clutch was in good condition and that the timely action on the Exoressway had ensured that the clutch remained usable. He said that the car could be driven upto Bangalore, but we’d have to be careful with the clutch. The caveat: Either press the clutch fully, or don’t press it at all. No half clutch for braking, and if we had to brake, we were to use the Hand brakes only.

So, what?

Now. These kind of incidents will keep happening as long as the Amrutanjan Bridge problem exists. The only way to solve the problem is to bypass the stretch altogether with a tunnel. When the Expressway first opened up, it had far fewer takers than it has today because there were numerous people who preferred the old highway. To counter this issue, the MSRDC came up with a solution. Hand over the Old Mumbai Pune highway and Expressway to IRB’s SPV Mhaiskar Infrastructure for Operation and Maintenance on the Expressway and Build-Operate for the Highway. The old NH was four laned from Shedung to Khopoli and Lonavala to Dehu Road, and made a Toll Road. Naturally, all traffic started gravitating towards the Expressway which was the better alternative among two toll roads. If the tunnel is built and the existing section is handed over to the NH, traffic will still remain the same given the increase in the number of vehicles.

With such conditions, it would good if MSRDC and Mhaiskar Infra regularised the services of these mechanics. By virtue of waiting at the side for a vehicle, they come under the category of both Pedestrians and Two Wheelers, both of which are technically banned. Thus, if the higher ups regularised them, it would make life simpler for IRB/MSRDC, the commuter, and these mechanics. After all, they have a specific skillset, that they out to use efficiently. Around the time when our car got stuck, there were atleast half a dozen cars, jeeps and SUVs in the half kilometre stretch ahead of us with the same issue.

 

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[Unsung Heroes] New feature: The Unsung Heroes

Inspired by incidents that occurred over the last few days, a new feature is coming up. It will be a fortnightly feature; titled The Unsung Heroes of the Transport World.

The first one will be out in a few hours. The feature will talk about various people, from conductors, mechanics, officials, common citizens, police personnel, etc.

All posts under this feature will be tagged under Unsung Heroes and have [Unsung Hero] in the post title. They’ll all be on the main blog and not a separate one [like features on the Stupindex].

Please do post any suggestions in the comments section. I will follow up and do my research. Guest posters are more than welcome to join in!

 

 

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[Public Service Announcement] – Giving Way to an Ambulance

Hi all, this is a Public Service Announcement, or PSA that I had developed two years ago as an assignment. The concept is to give way to Ambulances in Traffic. Please do listen to it, and post your feedback in the Comments section. Thank you!

CREDITS

Copyright 2016, Srikanth Ramakrishnan and Deepak Kumar. If you would like to use this elsewhere, I’d request you to please share the link to this post. A short link to this page exists at: http://j.mp/AmbuPSA

Click here to leave feedback.

 

Premise: A lot of people lose their lives because an Ambulance is either unable to reach them on time, or reach the hospital on time. There are two causes for this:

  • Lack of ambulances on the road.
  • Traffic on the road.

The latter is the cause of a vast majority of such deaths as most people simply do not give way for an ambulance when it is on the road.

In many cases, if people are unable to get an Ambulance, they resort to getting into an Auto-Rickshaw, which by virtue of it’s three wheels, can navigate its way. In several places, an ‘Auto-ambulance’ has been set up to help move patients quickly.

Listen to this PSA to understand what could go wrong if Ambulances are stuck in Traffic Click To Tweet

 

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I want to take my blog to the next level #Blogchatter

I was tagged by Pooja to write this post.

So here goes,

Hi all,

This is just an update on the things that may change on this blog in the near future.

For starters, this is the 50th post on the blog. Yes. 50th. I couldn’t have reached 50 posts without the support of various people around me, including the online friends that I have made in the last few months.

Among these 50 posts are two guest posts by a friend of mine, who isn’t going to reveal his real name to anyone. A few more guest posts, on various topics, including Indian Railways, BEST, Ahmedabad Janmarg, PMPML and buses in Abu Dhabi are all in the pipeline. A lot of interesting updates have been planned for the months of March-April-May, so stay tuned to BESTpedia. A new theme, and a new sub-blog is also in the pipeline!

For those who want to stay updated, I’d recommend that you add the RSS feed to you browser. The RSS feed is accessible at http://bestpedia.in/feed/

If you use Feedly or Bloglovin’, here are some links that could work well for you.

Bloglovin’ link: https://www.bloglovin.com/feed/blog/14473693

Feedly link: https://feedly.com/i/category/Bestpedia.in

 I now tag Gauravi to write their take on the topic.

I want to take my blog to the next level with Blogchatter

 

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