To All Those Who Deride BMTC and Public Transport

The general contempt and hate the so-called new-generation upwardly mobile, MNC-employed, high-flying, English-speaking, car-driving, snobby, westernized self-appointed hypocritical middle-class Indians (but who are in reality the elite 2% of the Indian society; like for instance, Bangalore’s IT-coolie crowd) have towards public transport is well-known. It is explicitly visible on many levels and platforms, from casual office banter to social media, which I myself have documented many a time. These today’s wonders, who think themselves to be accomplished and a cut above the rest, consider it beneath themselves to partake in activities of those who (they think) have not reached their levels of “success”, like taking public transport for instance, because when you have a car why would you take a bus, right? “Oh, you know, buses are so for the lower classes you know, it does not befit my status, you see” (read in the US accent of a 2-week onsite-returnee).

The “New Generation” Indian Hate for Public Transport

Sure, everyone has their personal choices and you cannot force anyone to take public transport, though I am of the opinion that people MUST be forced to, like the odd-even rule in Delhi, because Indians turn into assholes once they get behind a steering wheel. What irks me unlike anything is the disdain people have towards public transport and the people who operate and travel in them. It is common in Bangalore (and everywhere else) to see sunglass-wearing smug people looking like Aadu Thoma in formals cursing and shouting at BMTC drivers from the air-conditioned perches of their cars and SUVs, admonishing them of their traffic transgressions, though they are mostly pissed that their mighty Dacia Duster was forced to follow the lowly bus, because the number of vehicles overtaken seems to be the ultimate dick measuring contest. And it does not stop there. People take to social media to vent their anger, even if it is the only tweet they have ever posted, and gets massively liked and retweeted by their peers who also deem public buses to be a conspiracy to take away their God-given right to drive and create a mess. In Kerala, KSRTC drivers are regularly beaten up (and even killed) by goons of all types for “not giving side to overtake”.

It is, of course, a given that BMTC buses are among the top rule-breakers in Bangalore. However, this is only because they are the most visible and they all come under the same ownership. If anyone tallies all the rules private cars break in the city, it will be more than rule-breaking of all transport corporations in India put together on an hourly basis. A very small example: Indian Rules of the Road Regulations 1989, section 8 and 11 say pedestrians always have right of way at an un-signalled pedestrian (Zebra) crossing, meaning, vehicles have to stop for people to cross. There is one such in front of Manyata Tech Park. BMTC buses, trucks and even taxis might stop. Guess who never stops unless threatened? Not only do entitled private car drivers refuse to stop but actively try to prevent them from crossing the road by trying to run them over. These people include some “friends” in office, all proponents of the “Why don’t these people come in cars” theory. This bloody mentality of self-entitlement and hypocrisy makes me want to puke, every damn day.

The outrage against BMTC (Volvos in particular), is only another manifestation of the urban “accomplished” yuppie car driver’s disdain towards public transport. Among many other reasons, most of this is psychological and ego-based. Buses are aberrations that impinge upon their idea of a perfect, sanitized world, like those seen in advertisements, with neat rows of cars on spotless roads. Buses remind him/her of their “less accomplished” times when he/she was just another face in the crowd who had to fight to get to their destinations, Volvos more so because they are used by their peers only, which makes them all the more insecure about themselves. All this hate leads to ridiculous arguments against public transport: “If the buses weren’t there, we could have had more space to drive!” “The buses are so polluting!” “When will India be a developed country so that we won’t have to have public transport? (!!)” Yes, these are real dialogues given by so-called “educated” MNC coolies. The levels of ignorance are goddamnedly unbelievable! When one guy said “These Volvos just downshift their gears and race ahead!“, I corrected him that the Volvo B7RLEs are automatic. He then tried to argue when I asked him when the last time he took a Volvo was. As I expected, it turned out to be, never. What these condescending idiots do not understand is that it is not buses but they themselves who in their single-occupant cars create the biggest mess on the roads eating up space and destroying the environment only to indulge their ego and fancies.

BMTC Ordinary Bus
And they are dusty too! Unlike mu Duster which is totally not.

The Lives of BMTC Bus Drivers and Conductors – The Real Story

Yes, BMTC drivers drive rash, but it would be nice if people would also understand the horrible conditions they have to work in. You pussies who deride them wouldn’t last a day in their shoes. Bangalore bus drivers endure horrific amounts of stress, mental, psychological and physical. They have to drive these huge, unwieldy, overcrowded buses through horrible, undisciplined traffic on packed, narrow roads, in searing heat, dust and pollution, day in and day out, working for a pittance with no adequate rest or nourishment, constantly on alert for idiotic bikers as any mishap will automatically be their fault (bigger vehicle). They also have to deal with rowdy public inside and outside who only wait to pick fights with them. And you get pissed driving one hour to office? Imagine these drivers who have to do that ALL DAY. Everyday. Seven days a week. And at the end of the day, they can’t just go home. Do you know that most BMTC crew sleep inside their buses? On the floor? Look for cardboard sheets stashed in between and under seats. That is their bed. They don’t see their families for days, use public comfort stations, eat from unhealthy roadside stalls (you can see night buses stopping at stalls to pick up food) and get hardly any entertainment. And you think you can judge a BMTC driver because he didn’t allow you to overtake and hence ruined your bloody entitlement? You have no idea.

Me and you, sitting comfortably in climate controlled buildings, doing all these modern-age coolie jobs that we try to convince ourselves as the next path-breaker for human civilization but in reality makes no difference to anybody’s lives (when was the last time an Excel sheet of Social Media Metrics saved anybody’s life?), with our five-day work weeks and comfy homes and weekend entertainment options have no idea how it is to do real work that involves physical strain. Today’s posh generation living pampered, sterilized lives, used to stepping easily from their office into their car into their homes, all climate controlled, posh and spotless, surrounded by cheering friends and family, staunch believers of the theory that they run the world and hence it owes them everything and has to provide them everything on a platter (so, “how dare the bus does not allow me to pass!“), will never understand or acknowledge the travails or the world of the poor BMTC driver they vilify for “rash driving”, who will sleep alone on the floor of his bus on cardboard sheets. By all means, don’t take the bus, but at least be sensible enough to see and understand what others around you go through.

For those who deride public transport and the people who make use of it, and want everyone to drive cars instead, here is a small number-based fact. On any given working day, an average of 25 people alight from any bus that stops at the Manyata Tech Park gate (I have counted). Imagine a ballpark figure of 400 buses running, which will make 10000 people commuting by bus to the office (it is a lot more). If all these 10000 people were to drive cars like my knowledgeable colleague wanted, where the hell will all you self-important, entitled morons drive? Where will you park? For once, take your head out of your ass and be fucking grateful to us who take public transport, and to those who enable it, because unlike what you would like to think, the world does not run because of you, but on the contrary there are entire ecosystems out there that exist so that you and your pathetic little makeshift bubbles of lives can subsist. Public transport is one of them. So the next time, instead of shouting, be happy that BMTC exists, because it is one among the factors that enable you to drive your crappy Duster around to show others.

Storified version of the midnight Twitter rant that led to this blog post.

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  • Rex

    How exactly does preaching to car owners to abandon their cars and make use of BMTC buses that are already running jam packed beyond capacity during peak hours make any sense?

  • nirnaama

    hey, that’s only half true. There are lakhs of IT employees who ‘actually commute’ on BMTC and scheduled transportation of the IT parks (again TempoTravellers, BMTC chartered buses).

    Are you even employed in IT? Do you know our routines and challenges? How long have you been staying in Bangalore? Are you a native? Stop generalizing out of context and get realistic. I do agree that there are ‘rich and spoilt’, but painting Bangalore-IT-Coolies is the worst way to pull a trick that you intended.

    In addition to what Rex mentions about overcrowded buses, have you considered the other problems at all:
    Safety/security of women,
    Time/route taken to reach destination,
    travel comfort,

    Also, in many areas BMTC doesnt have a reach within 500m of workplace.

    IT hate monger, turn your attention to the ‘actually rich and spoilt’, who happen to cut across the nation,cities,employments (if any), up-bringing.

    PS: Deriding ‘#IT Coolies’, ‘#middle-class’ is equally deplorable, pal. So is employing ‘#abusive cuss words’, displaying hatred towards any section of society or any geography.

    Overall, a one-sided picturization and an over-zealous attitude.

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