BMTC: Lessons Learnt

For the past one month, my movements have been at the mercy of Bengalooru Mahanagara Saarige Samsthe. I’m astonished at the distance I’ve covered in that time… only wish they gave out goodies for frequent hangers (most of the distance has been covered while hanging onto a narrow strip of cloth fixed to a metal railing).

I guess the amount I’ve travelled is colossal only coz initially I had no clue about the easiest routes to take, and tried to avoid Silk Board at all costs, apart from preferring frequency of buses over total distance covered. End result, I travelled from the eastern end of the city to the city center and then to the south-east, and the other way too. And THEN i was informed about the easier way out by a good conductor. Now, that was a shock; it cut my travelling time by half!

Anyway, like they say, learn from others’ mistakes…. here are mine, and how you can avoid making the same ones I made.

  • Don’t, don’t, don’t ever say “NIMHANS hogabeku” while asking for a ticket. Not everyone will understand that you’re going to just wait for another bus at the stop there.
  • When in doubt, go to Majestic. Or, at worst, Shivajinagar. Never, ever, ever take a bus to KR Market. You might or might not live to regret it.
  • If you hate crowds, catch the pre-6:30 AM buses.
  • If the aforementioned bus is a red-board, the above if-condition is violated, and so is your sense of personal space.
  • And if it’s headed towards KR Market…. be prepared to share space with hens, eggs, baskets of grass, vegetables, and senile old ladies with betel-stained teeth and snuff-hardened voices, and the flurry of a Kannadiga dialect of Tamil.
  • “Richmond Circle” is imaginary. Now has anyone seen the Equator? Well, Richmond Circle falls in the same category. Popular opinion is divided whether it’s on Residency Road or on Richmond Road. Though another school of thought puts it approximately near Mayo Hall, there still exists another which says it’s next to Shoolay Circle.
  • The best-ever way to kill time is to catch 201. It takes you all the way from Srinagar to Domlur. The point is, it doesn’t do so through just the Ring Road – it takes a deviation at Koramangala to go all through CMH Road, Jeevanbimanagar, Indiranagar, Halasur, Murphy Town, Richmond Road, and god alone knows where else, just to head back to Domlur which is max twenty minutes from Koramangala. And this deviation takes two hours, at best.
  • BMTC driver-conductor yaavattu route tappalla. They can never be wrong on the routes. This, I got from a self-righteous conductor when I expressed doubts about whether the route he told me about was feasible.
  • In conflict with the above point is this one. I travel too much by bus. This I demonstrated when I directed a n00b driver on the right turnings to go to Old Madras Road from Murphy Town.
  • You get verbally abused if you lack exact change. If you can abuse back, nothing like it.
  • You need to be a frickin’ domineering bitchy bossy tough nut to be a BMTC checking inspector. There was this lady inspector who fined a passenger for not having a proper ticket. She said the conductor refused to change it for her irrespective of the number of times she asked (which I can vouch for), but the inspectre (boy, was she scary!) said it was the passenger’s fault as she didn’t create a big ruckus, due to which the conductor was encouraged to carry on the fraud!
  • Etymologies! I didnt know Halasur was named after the Halasina Hannu (jackfruit) trees around the lake. And I thought CMH was just another kewl abbreviation… but it’s actually Chinmaya Mission Hospital. And BTM is Byrasandra-Tavarekere-Madiwala.
  • East Bangalore consists of highwaymen who rob you under the guise of a little ‘extra’ for the grand favour of letting you use their autorickshaw.
  • One-ways are the enemy of habitual bus-hoppers. Now if you have a BMTC pass of some sort, it’s hard to resist the temptation of jumping from one bus to another in the hope that the new one might move a bit faster. Especially when you’re in the middle of a traffic jam. Now I came across a bus which I would have had to catch two stops hence, on the one-way near Dickenson Road. In the middle of the traffic jam, I get off the bus I’m on, and run into the new bus. But ahh… turns out it’s going the other way, away from my destination. Added an hour to my travel time, that did.
  • Vajra is a very good example of daylight robbery. These are some ‘special’ buses, coloured grey to show the area of law in which they operate. They charge one-and-a-half times the usual rate, but for what? The seats are not more comfortable, the bus is not air-conditioned, and it’s not even limited-stop. Bah!
  • Stop names are a result of public usage. So you have ‘Sony World’, not Ejipura, it’ll take some time for ‘LRDE’ to be rechristened ‘Bagmane’, Fraser Town will never be known as Pulakeshinagar, irrespective of what the BBMP tries, and no one knows ‘Murphy Town’, everyone knows only ‘Church’. And where the hell is Gurappan Palya? Everyone only knows Jayadeva.
  • An-n-n-d… it’s a small world, after all! Just today, I got to meet a friend of mine I hadn’t set eyes on for close to six years now. But that isn’t it… I happen to travel with the same set of giggly girls every morning, and they turned out to be classmates of my cousin. And that’s not all, they turn out to be the same ones I hear her comment about every now and then. And what’s even better, they were commenting about her! Turns out it sure is fun to hear both sides of the story.
  • To finish off, I’d like to talk about the indomitable human spirit (The same thing you read about in Readers’ Digest). Everyday, I happen to travel on the same route as this lady who travels all the way from Jayanagar to ITPL, for a job in a garment factory. She’s hardly five feet tall, makes excellent conversation, jumps buses with impunity as she has a pass. There are hundreds who fit that description, I suppose… but then, this lady is completely blind! She knew bus routes like the back of her hand – she helps out a lot of noobs, she doesn’t depend on anyone else to tell her what bus it is, she doesn’t ask for help to get on and get off, she vacates the reserved seat in the front of the bus with a crisp ‘Excuse me’… “How do you manage?” I asked her. “I can’t bother about distance and the like when I have a living to make!”, she said. And another thing I noticed is how helpful the BMTC folks are – they assist her without being patronizing. They always make sure she gets a fair deal. And since she’s such a regular, she’s takes active part in the banter. The thing is, she never ASKS for help, and it’s so ingrained in the people to -for want of a better word- help her out when she needs it, that they don’t consider it out of place. Hats off to this wonderful city, where all that matters is your drive, determination and zest to live.

About wanderlust

just your average books-and-music person who wants to change the world.
This entry was posted in Attempts at Humour, Bangalore, Priya's Travails, travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to BMTC: Lessons Learnt

  1. Swati says:

    Wow that was comprehensive indeed!! To share some of my bus(Port Authority Transit, Pittsburgh) experiences here..Once the driver finds that there are five /sometimes six ppl standing in the bus- he/she thinks its overloaded and does not stop the bus at any other stop.!Its pretty annoying to say the least!!!Heights…we thought…If only we could give them a glimpse of the footboard travellers on BMTC buses-they would get the real definition of the word “overload”!!

  2. thushar says:

    nice flair for writing! how old are you?

  3. Thejesh GN says:

    when I was in college 201 used to pick-pocketer’s bus…not sure how safe it is now!

  4. wanderlust says:

    wow! i guess that is possible only in such a thinly-populated country! but don’t buses come with a “capacity: 60(seated)+69(standing)” sort of thing stamped onto them?
    i wonder what first-world tourists who undergo a ‘native experience’ during their one-year-off-to-discover-self in india say when they try public transport…..
    thanks. haven’t you heard of ‘never ask a man his wage and a woman her age’?
    touchwood i have managed with my posessions intact. though once at CMH there were this gang of women with babies who were trying to pick pockets and were promptly shooed out of the bus.

  5. Nice one, but hey “it’ll take some time for ‘LRDE’ to be rechristened ‘Bagmane’,”?? There is no place called Bagmane. There is only a Bagmane Tech Park – It is the name of the builder if I’m not mistaken.

  6. wanderlust says:

    im not sure there are conscientious people who will say “bagmane tech-parki-ige ondhu ticket kodi”… most say “ondhu bagmane”. and the few conductors who don’t scream ‘LRDE bannri!’ scream ‘Bagmane iliyovaru banni!!’.

  7. well then it should be called BTP coz thats what the buses have on their board, not Bagmane

  8. wanderlust says:

    sadly it is the bus-using public of bangalore, the bmtc staff and not tony sebastian who decides what stops are actually called (as in referred to).

    like all the buses have JP Nagar 3rd Phase written brightly on the boards, but kamalamma who goes to market knows only JD-mara. and while krishnappa lakshmegowda conductor knows it’s called 3rd phase, he yells out JD-mara for the benefit of kamalamma, chondamma and the rest of the flower-ladies from hulimavu, and the grass ladies from devarachikkanahalli.

  9. Karthik C says:

    “The best-ever way to kill time is to catch 201.”

    I once took a ride in 501. I believe I circumscribed Bangalore one and a half times that day, over a period of about three hours.

    “You get verbally abused if you lack exact change. If you can abuse back, nothing like it.”
    And if you can’t, you end up feeling stupid, like Arthur Dent on the fateful Thursday when the earth was destroyed. Like today.

  10. Hey!
    You have covered so much of Bengaluru.
    Heard a publisher is signing you for a book titled “Bengaluru Simpluru” 🙂

    Good points.


  11. Pingback: Bengaluru Simpluru | DesiPundit

  12. wanderlust says:

    500-odds are lords of the ring road.
    yella ok, simpluru yaake?
    thanks for the link-up 🙂

  13. Kiran says:

    Hi .. landed here through DesiPundit. That was an excellent write-up to say the least. I fell off my chair laughing at some of your “points”. Of course, some parts are over-exaggerated .. while some are under-exaggerated (if there exists such a thing 😀 ) ..

    I used to travel a lot by BMTC .. till I graduated to my vehicle. I still never miss a “chance” to hop on to a BMTC .. just for the good-old-days .. awww .. cmon .. Do i see a sarcastic expression? .. its not all that bad .. especially if you happen to frequent the Jaynagar region or say, Malleshwaram-Rajajinagar areas etc..

    And yeah.. the one piece of advice I give to everyone (after learning out the hard way) was the thing you said about avoiding KR Market AT-ALL-COSTS!!!

  14. Oh! Had planned to make it bengaluru life simplified, something like that…did not have time to explain…did not have time to write another line when I posted it….

    Absurd aayitha???

  15. V says:

    nice write up, I grew up in Bangalore so I can tell you that Richmond circle was a beautiful fountain surrounded by a circle of lawn and plants which existed at the intersection of Richmond road and Residency road, where the flyover is right now.

  16. wanderlust says:

    exaggerated? noways! maybe the way i describe it… but incidents described in this post really did happen.
    bmtc is pretty good… better than most public transport systems i’ve seen. and jayanagar *rocks*.
    absurd alla… arbit annisithu.
    yeah.. yeah.. that’s what i thought too…. atleast the buses from south bangalore drop you off there. but the ones coming from the east and north have slightly different versions of richmond circle. it really really killed me till i sorted out that confusion.

  17. Vishnupriya says:

    Hey.. u are absolutely right about KR market by the way!!.. and I totally got lost there..trying to find the place for the bus going towards majestic…instead where..everybody literally stopped the bus on the road and got in!! I followed suit.. I hope its not the case..for most of the buses there..and I always have this feeling of being run over by some bus there..absolute chaos.. ! but all said and done.. Bangalore has one of the best and well connected public transport systems i’ve seen!.. and being a non-banglorean.that means a lot !!.. and nice sense of humor.. u captured it perrrrfectly!!!

  18. Bangalore is quite definitely the only place in the world where to go from anywhere to anywhere, the best method is to first take a bus to Majestic!

    God, I remember those Monday mornings from my aunt’s place back to the hostel! Crazy, yet great fun!

  19. parthan says:

    Actually Richmond Circle is the Sirsi Circle at the end of Richmond Road (in the maps, named as Gen Thimmaiah Road) where Residency Road, Mission Road and Raja Ram Mohan Roy Road meets together. Now we have Sirsi Circle Flyover over this junction and this is what gets mentioned in TV news.

    Secondly, holding a Bus pass is pretty advantageous as you need not worry about getting into a wrong bus and spending money; instead you can get into any bus, get out of it anywhere and get into another bus at any place; quite useful if you know which bus goes where and how, and ready to swap buses.

    Though BMTC stage names still say Bangalore Club, it is either known as Richmond road bus stop or Residency road bus stop. I have found BMTC conductors to be quite helpful in telling people about how to go their destinations (there are always exceptions, am not talking about them 😉 )

  20. wanderlust says:

    the reason i said that about KR Market is that you have to walk through some really confusing paths to change buses to different parts of bangalore. the other chaos and things are of negligible concern. Comparatively.
    nice heuristic, though shivajinagar is too a good option sometimes.
    bishop cottons/bangalore club is what is the richmond circle bus stop for folks coming from south bangalore. when you come from the east, the stop right after shoolay circle is called richmond circle bus stop. both these are quite a distance apart, and if you are using richmond circle as a transit point, between south and east, god save you if you don’t know too much about blore buses and one-ways.

  21. Shriram R says:

    Hi Author,
    You almost took out the words to desccribe my recent journeys of 2.5 hours of travel from one end (Nagavara) to other end (Arekere Gate, near IIMB)
    I could belong to this post. Much fun came 🙂

  22. Steve says:

    Ah man… I’ve been away from Bangalore for more than a year now.. living in a little town in Ireland. This write up really made me miss my Bangalore.. our conductors are the best whistlers in the world. sigh!!.. i miss home.

  23. wanderlust says:

    🙂 much pleasure comes from reading such comments
    whistling! yes! forgot to mention here. earsplitting, arent they?

  24. You said “Vajra is a very good example of daylight robbery. These are some ’special’ buses, coloured grey to show the area of law in which they operate. They charge one-and-a-half times the usual rate, but for what? The seats are not more comfortable, the bus is not air-conditioned, and it’s not even limited-stop. Bah!

    You’re missing a very important difference between the two – The price of the ticket! The higher price of the ticket means that there are lesser people traveling on it. For people that value less crowd (like me), the extra money is worth it. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t have more comfortable seats. Hell, they can have the exact same color bus, but charge extra for one, and it would still make sense.

  25. Tuna Fish says:

    @ aditya’s Comment
    Reminds me of Mumbai local trains’ First Class Compartment

  26. Sahodaran says:


    there are different varieties of 201 (201A, B, C etc). Some of them actually go straight via ring road to Domlur. Only some meanders.

    I felt that the Vajra bus is very comfy, and is less crowded (pocket factor), but yea – a daylight robbery. I will coolly handover the 5 rs note to travel from “Kemp Fort” to Domalur – and the conductor will rudely yell: 9 Ruppees BOSS!

    Agree completely on KR Market. Even though KR Market has more bus frequency than Shivaji Nagar on several routes, its so dirty and crowded. Kalasipalayam is the dirtiest area in the whole world.


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