Wednesday, October 22, 2008

MTC Buses

Unless you have travelled in one, you cannot relate to the experience :)Happy

Anyway,this post is about the plight of the conductors. It is a truly thankless job. First, there is the problem of overcrowding and ensuring that all people have tickets. Then, there is the problem of people not tendering exact change, and finally the problem of maintaining ticket sales. This leads to a lot of frustration and it is quite rare to see a happy or peaceful conductor especially during peak hours Happy

This post is to touch upon the last aspect, because it is the most overlooked aspect from a commuter perspective - maintaining ticket sales! If you are aware, a trip on an MTC bus is divided into stages. A "stage" is where the ticket rate to the same destination drops because the distance is reduced. So it is the conductors responsiblity to clear off unticketed passengers before the stage changes. Frequently, especially during peak hours, the bus stops so the conductor can clear off any backlogs. It is a passenger nightmare. Happy There is nothing to blame the conductor here for, that is the process chalked out to him/her (very few hers!). Crowd apart, there is this sheet he has to fill out at each stage marking serial numbers of the ticket denominations he has to keep tally. It is truly a production support environment with continuous pressure!

Now, there is no need for all this complexity. I think it is time to enlist technology. The other day, I was travelling in a deluxe bus (this means that the ticket rate is 4 times the normal rate with no visibly additional facility!), I saw this conductor holiding a digital priting device. He just printed out a ticket for whatever destination we asked for, and for multiple tickets purchased by a single person, it was still a single ticket (imagine counting 20 individual sheets in a crowded atmosphere). Best of all, it is the keeping track. The conductors head is all clear of keeping track of stages as the tiny machine does that. Once before the stage, I saw him press an "Update" button that supposedly syncs some internal databases with the stage data.

This sort of technology change is long long overdue and must be brought in wherever feasible. It must be expedited at least at critical junction points where there is a lot of frustration involved in getting things done!
A side thought - if the government doesn't take care of these things, why else do we need one? Because, the bigger issues are still in the same state for years as well!

  1. Train tickets (we have etickets now for long distance travels), but local train tickets are still a headache. A vending machine concept was piloted, but I am yet to come across a working machine! Happy
  2. Auto rickshaws - despite the mandate, no one uses meters. You must be here to see the haggling involved before a trip commences. Can't we employ technology to track this? What if we fine the passenger in a random audit for not using the meter (instead of the driver!?)]
  3. Traffic signals (this deserves a separate post!)

Ticket Sample:

Note: The images above are licensed with creative commons.
The copyright for these images belong to PlaneMad. Click on the images to view them on PlaneMad's website.


Ramsi said...

Last time when I was in India, I took a bus from Erode to Coimbatore and was surprised to see the conductor use this ticket machine. If they have introduced this in Chennai deluxe buses also, then I think it won't be a long time that we start seeing this in all buses.

Deepak said...

Probably, but my point was different!
These are very reactive and late. I have a very large list going in my mind (nothing hitech or hifi - simple changes that improve the living experience of a city dweller). If an average person can come up with a list like that, people whose full time job is that can definitely do better than what we have!

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