Bengaluru, July 21: If you don't have change, please leave the bus- sounds familiar? Well, Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has come to the rescue of passengers who are often forced out by ticket collectors for want of small change. BMTC is planning to introduce smart cards for passengers making their commute cashless and thereby hoping that it will put an end to this problem.
BMTC is all set to launch smart cards this will materialise by the end of September.
No change? Avoid boarding BMTC or face ouster
If you hope to get change for Rs 100 and Rs 500 in one of the prominent public transport systems in Asia, BMTC at present, you will certainly land in trouble. Either you will be 'ordered ' by the Ticket Collector (TC) to get out of the bus or you will be at the receiving end of abuses hurled at you until he manages to collect change.
Ramashish, a daily commuter who travels from Vishwanatha Nagenahalli to Shivajinagar (bus number 415) via BMTC was twice asked by the TC to alight from the bus for not carrying Rs 50 or Rs 20 notes. He was carrying Rs 100 and Rs 500 notes in the morning hours.
Ramashish who hails from Uttar Pradesh and who works as carpenter recalls: "That day before boarding the bus I tried to collect change for Rs 100 but no shopkeepers in the vicinity of Vishwanatha Nagenahalli could help me as they had just started business. It was 8.30am in the morning."
Ramashish, who was new to Bengaluru then says he hoped to get change in the bus as at that time many boarded the bus. The bus fair is Rs 19 from Vishwanatha Nagenahalli to Shivajinagar. "I boarded the bus and sat behind ." The TC who approached Ramashish, was furious after he saw him take out a Rs 100 note from his pocket.
"The TC told me to give change. I said I did not have any change and asked him to take the money and give me the change later when I get down at Shivajinagar. The TC used words in Kannada which I did not understand. Then he told in Hindi to get out of the bus. When I objected he raised his voice and ordered me to leave the bus," Ramashish lamented.
Rajendra, a techie in the city has a similar incident to narrate. He boarded the bus at Indian Express circle to travel to Richmond. "I was holding Rs 500 note as soon as I got into the bus. I thought I can get change. But a lady TC said if you have change you can travel or else get down and board another bus. I got down and went in search of change," he said.
Out of 15 people, OneIndia spoke to 9 people complained that TCs often force passenger out of the bus for the same reason. Other 6 said they have seen bus conductors throwing people out.
OneIndia spoke to a TC who does not wish to be identified and said "See if we do not have change, we cannot go in search for the same in the midst of our duty. Most of the time we see to it that we collect change from passengers to give to those who buy ticket."
He, however, added that, when not in a position to offer change they do ask passengers to leave the bus but with polite tone.
Smart card will end this trend
Managing Director of BMTC, Dr Ekroop Caur speaking to OneIndia said introduction of smart cards and going cashless will put an end to this trend. "The BMTC is all set to launch smart cards and this will materialise by the end of September," Caur added.
When asked about the present problem faced by passengers, she said passengers can complain to the authorities. "There is 24/7 toll free helpline, then there is Twitter, Facebook. Aggrieved parties can raise complaints here," she said.
Responding to the 'rude behaviour' of TCs and the 'forceful ouster' of passengers from the bus, she said: "There are practical problems in carrying change. You can talk about rights of passengers to travel uninterrupted in the BMTC. But at the same time one needs to understand the problems faced by TCs as well. Taking the exact currency is always a good option."