BMTC Girl’s Rules


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

25 thoughts on “BMTC Girl’s Rules

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention BMTC Girl’s Rules « Squibble --

      • Thanks for considering my wish and adding the BMTC bus photo. Well… on IWD2011, someone at my home :) is wishing that BMTC should offer ticket-less travel today to all the women in the city!

        Happy International Women’s Day 2011

  2. Well written post – I have been using the bus for a while and my experience has been pretty good as well. It sounded as someone penned down my thoughts as well – thank you for putting those down!

  3. Hey, I loved this article. I’m not from Bangalore, and moreover, not from the south. So I was always warned how insanely difficult it would be to travel on BMTC buses. But since then I’ve interned in Bangalore on and off and loved the bus service there. It’s definitely one of the best in India. The people/conductors/drivers have always been helpful, even though I’m pretty much clueless about Kannada, and I really think all that anti-non-southie prejudice is so not real. It applies only to people who just want to sit and bitch about everything. I even picked up some Kannada on my 5 hour bus ride everyday.(yeah, I used to the other side of the city. :P ). I think observing around is really important, as it gives one a fair idea of what to do and what not~ that’s how I got to know about the passes, and women in front rule- and guys will always get up without a word if you ask them too. Often, I’ve given up my seat for someone who looked really tired (but only if I wasn’t tired, as well. :) ) And yeah, the online bus route mapping system is awesome. Here’s another database to add, which I really love using:
    It gives you all possible routes from any bus stop to another, even if it’s got break-ins in between.

    I especially remember this one evening when I was commuting. It had rained, and there was a rainbow, and I was really excited for some reason, and I wanted to show it people who didn’t really seem to be noticing it. :D But I knew no one, of course, plus knew really meagre Kannada. Anyway, I just pointed out the rainbow to a bunch of females sitting in front of me in the bus. They were of the working class and there was no way anyone of them could know English. But well, I just pointed at the rainbow, said something like “nodi” and smiled. And they looked at it and smiled back at me, and said something in Kannada, which I really couldn’t get. So I was like, “Kannada sulpa”, in my broken tongue. And they gave me a really cute smile, and corrected my pronunciation of “sulpa”. Hehe.
    I know, what a silly story, and what a stupidly long comment, but their smiles made my day, really, and made me love Bangalore like crazy. :)

  4. Nice one. I spent a lot of years travelling in the BEST buses in Mumbai and I feel that most of what you have said is applicable there too. Except for the ‘women in front, men at the back’ thing… they don’t have that in the Mumbai buses.

  5. Great post. Very true in most BMTC buses.

    Disclaimer : I am not a girl.

    The problem I face most whenever I’m in B’lore is something you’d probably not face, language. The conductors either can’t or won’t speak in English / Hindi, and although I’ve never tried Bengali or German, I’m sure they’d not help either.

    Rule 2 : Online information is how I survive in Bangalore.
    I would really have loved a smartphone (Dalvik/ iOS) version of Mobile 4 Blr, but thanks for the link anyway. I’ll make do with J2ME runner. (Get untested .apk[Android app] here : Should but may not work.)

    Rule 4 : I’m never sure.

    Rule 6 : Depends on luck really. As said in MNIK, there are good conductors, and there are bad conductors.

    Rule 8-b is even truer for us. People expect 20-25 yr old guys to never sit as long as any one is standing. Their day long trials and tribulations, (possibly of taking bribes for clearing pension files), are obviously more strenous than our 16 hour long studies and jobs.

    Rule 9 : Global truth.

    Rule 10 : Not applicable :P

    But you could’ve added one of the JnNurm bus photos. The one you added is not really as common as it used to be.

    P.S. You really write with a lot of clarity.

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