BMTC’s midnight curfew strains commuters

The standing policy of the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) to cease all operations by 12.30 am has inconvenienced thousands of passengers across the City and has left their wallets lighter.

A large number of inter-state and intra-state buses arrive at Majestic and satellite bus stations after 12.30 am — but not to cater to the needs of hundreds of passengers waiting at these stations. Instead, the buses retire to the depot for the night, leaving commuters with little choice but to hire an autorickshaw or a taxi, many of whom, seeing an opportunity, charge exorbitant rates even for short trips.

Commuters told that the rickshaws are the worst offenders, charging rates which rival the price of long-distance bus tickets. Ever since construction began on the Metro rail station at Majestic, the majority of bus operators have moved their routes to the Mysore Road satellite station and the Shanthinagar terminus, neither of which has a prepaid auto stand.

While Majestic has a prepaid auto stand, it ceases operation late at night. “This has allowed auto drivers to charge whatever they please,” a commuter said.

Chirag Chinnappa, a resident of Indiranagar, explained that he, like many, was a victim of overcharging by an autorickshaw. “My bus reached the Mysore Road satellite bus stand from Kodagu at 2 am. The price for the bus ticket was Rs 400. What is outrageous is that to travel from the station to my home in Indiranagar, I had to pay the auto driver Rs 300,” he said.

Contradictory statements

The BMTC Public Relations Officer, Dastagir Shariff, attributed the situation to the extremely low number of buses arriving in the City after midnight and claimed that there are not many commuters to use them. “Considering the current cost of diesel, it is not feasible to operate buses all night long,” he added.

His statement, however, is contradicted by officials of the inter-state transport corporations of Tamil Nadu (TNSTC), Andhra Pradesh (APSRTC) and Karnataka (KSRTC) — all of whom claimed that a large number of buses arrive in the City after 12.30 am. “The KSRTC alone has more than 250 buses arriving in the City between 12.30 am and 4 am,” explained KSRTC General Manager of Traffic, Vishwanath.

K Raju, an APSRTC official at the Shantinagar Bus station, added that, “Many buses coming from Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam and other coastal regions of Andhra Pradesh arrive after 12.30 am.”

TNSTC officials also said that most buses from Ooty and Coimbatore arrive in the City only after midnight.

Sourya D, a late-night passenger, said that extending the operational timings of prepaid auto stands would greatly serve to ease the financial burden on commuters.  “After my arrival at the Shanthinagar Terminus from Vijayawada at 1 am, I was forced to pay Rs 140 to travel the relatively short distance between the Shanthinagar Terminus and my home at Baldwin Girl’s School,” she said.