I’ve been meaning to write this for a while.
Everyday, for the past 3 years, I travel by BMTC bus from my home to college and back. As I write this, I realize that no matter how much I grumble and mutter about the hassles of using public transport, Bangalore actually does have a pretty efficient bus system that many people do not take advantage of, or are simply not aware of. I have come to cherish my bus journeys everyday, I think it really has given me a better understanding of people in general. I see (and interact with ) so many people on the bus, some ace bus travelers and some awkward ones.
So I thought maybe I should write about some rules that I personally follow on the bus, which have helped me make these journeys a little more successful and less stressful!
Be warned, these are restricted to bus travel within Bangalore and are strictly based on my personal experiences and may not apply to everybody!
Rule 1. Don’t travel without a ticket/pass
Don’t. It’s just stupid, it’s not brave or cool. Be a responsible bus traveler and do your bit if you are making use of the BMTC service. Also if you get caught by a ticket checker, it is embarrassing and you will be fined. Also, please make sure you receive a ticket after you have paid. Conductors sometimes think they can get away with not issuing you a ticket, so ensure you get one. If he avoids you, make a fuss or just pointedly ask.
Rule 2. Take advantage of information available online
There are several websites online that can help with bus routes and numbers (including BIAL services). The main ones that I use are :
PS : There is also a pretty neat phone app called ‘Mobile 4 Blr’ which you can use on your phone for these purposes. It can be downloaded from here.
Rule 3. Make use of Bus Passes
If you find that you are going to be using more than one bus a day, and want to avoid buying a ticket for every trip, you can buy a bus pass. The ones available with almost all bus conductors is the Daily Bus Pass, which is currently priced at :
- Rs. 40 if you DON’T have a ‘Bangalore Card’
- Rs. 35 if you DO have a ‘Bangalore Card’
A ‘Bangalore Card’ is essentially a BMTC provided ID card which you have to get made at either Shivajinagar Bus Station or Kempegowda Bus Station. For more information on other types of passes available, please go here.
Tip : Please remember to sign the Daily Pass when you receive it, double check that the date and month is correctly marked and also the Male/Female box is correctly checked. If you are caught with a incorrect pass, you can be fined.
Rule 4. ASK if you’re not sure
Always ask the driver or conductor if the bus goes to the stop you want. It’s not stupid to ask, it’s the smart thing to do! Preferably before you board the bus. I avoid asking other people on the bus because sometimes they may not know and give you wrong information, but this is a personal choice. Once you are on the right bus, and are not sure when your stop is going to arrive, ASK THE CONDUCTOR TO TELL YOU. They will usually comply, and warn you that your stop is approaching.
Rule 5. Women in the front, men at the back
This may be politically incorrect, but I learnt the hard way that this system is the safest to follow. There are seats reserved for women, physically disabled and in some buses, for elderly people in the front of the bus.
Specifically for women : If you are a woman and you see a non-elderly, healthy man sitting in a seat reserved for women, stare hard at him and make him feel uncomfortable until he gets up. Or again, point out that it’s a woman’s seat. If you are standing, the area in the middle of the bus – closer to the women’s half – is the best place to stand as most women love to crowd up the front and refuse to move back. Don’t go all the way to the middle, as sometimes some men will try to act funny (this has happened to me, I’m the last person to say something sexist trust me, but this really is practical more than anything else).
Rule 6. Talking to the conductor
Always be polite. 90% of my interactions of conductors on the bus has been pleasant, contrary to popular belief that they are rude etc. If you are polite, they will be too. State your stop clearly, try and handover the correct amount, and make sure you get a ticket. If he/she owes you change, they will most often write the amount due at the back of the ticket. It is your responsibility to collect the amount before the bus reaches your stop. Do this BEFORE the bus reaches your stop, as the bus will not wait for you to get your change. And sometimes, the conductor will disappear to the back of the bus when your stop arrives, so be warned!
Rule 7. When (and how) to claim a seat
This mostly depends on your luck, and sometimes, your strategy. I always make it a point to listen to people who are seated when they buy their tickets so I can figure out whether it makes sense to stand near them and take their seat when they get off. Also if you are going to be using the same bus route regularly, you will kind of figure out where regulars get on/get off. When you are standing next to somebody who is going to get up, move backwards so that a) you make space for them to get up and move and b) as they get up, they are essentially blocking the person in front of them from taking the seat. In that time you can place your bag ( or your bottom :p) on the seat!
Rule 8. Giving up your seat
This one is entirely based on my personal choice, so it’s ok if it’s not your choice as well. I choose to give up my seat to people holding babies, or women who are pregnant, or elderly people who find it difficult to stand. More often than not, they are grateful and give you genuine smiles that brighten up your day Some may not acknowledge you giving up your seat, but that’s pretty rare. Whatever the case, I believe that it’s the considerate and human thing to do. Alternately, I refuse to give up my seat to women who think that just because I am a college girl/young/whatever I should be standing. Hello, college girls have busy lives too and we also wait the same amount of time for buses and are also tired.
Rule 9. Getting off the bus
Very important : Do NOT wait till the last second to get up/move towards the door. Everybody will scream at you, the conductor will curse you etc. Always make sure you are near (but not AT) the door about 5 minutes before the bus reaches your stop. Don’t underestimate the time it might take you to reach the door when the bus is crowded!
Rule 10. General behaviour
- As a girl, I choose to dress sensibly on the bus. Again, I am not preaching or being sexist, I am simply pointing out what works best. I avoid deep necks, slippery straps, short tops etc. And in most cases, I carry a jacket which I put on while I am on the bus and can take off later. Remember that you are traveling using public transport, there are all kinds of people on the bus, and people can be VERY judgmental – that’s just how it is. Do not invite trouble on purpose, it’s just stupid and pointless and trust me, if the women around you have judged you are ‘loose’ or whatever, they are not going to help you out if something happens. I have seen this happen, and no matter how courageous or brave you are, you cannot change this (yet).
- I know a lot of people choose to listen to music on the bus. Some are annoying, and want to play their music/radio on their speaker phones. Don’t be this person, please. It’s inconsiderate and annoying. Most phones come with headsets, use them. However, when you are wearing earphones, please make sure you wear them after you buy your ticket/pass or show your pass to the conductor. It is extremely frustrating for the conductor to catch the attention of someone who is turned away, wearing headphones and it pisses him off and he might be rude.
- Again, I cannot stop re-iterating that you are using public transport. You have to share space with different kinds of people. You cannot afford to be snobby, classist etc. There will snotty nosed kids, rude old women, people chatting loudly on their phones etc. Deal with it.
Oh and please, please, please keep an eye on your belongings. Try and keep you bag as close to your body as possible, with the zipper side/clasp/whatever in front of you. This way, you make space and nobody can flick stuff from you!
Hope this is helpful!
BMTC bus picture taken by kumar_08