NOT SMART by MSCL! Having New Bus Shelters with NO Bus Routes Marked on Them

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NOT SMART by MSCL! Having New Bus Shelters with NO Bus Routes Marked on Them

Mangaluru: Mangaluru Smart City Ltd (MSCL) and Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC) have a mission…’ It’s either more or less, but never adequate.’ So, when people who commute daily by City private buses complain of the hazards and hassles involved in boarding a bus, both the authorities seem to be aggravating the commuter’s problem. An overenthusiastic MSCL as part of Smart City Development projects have gone ahead with random construction of bus shelters, leaving the commuters more confused at some places and have completely ignored certain places.

Take this classic example of the lack of planning by MSCL. Here is yet another SMART-LESS project by SMART CITY Officials trying to waste taxpayers’ money on constructing not 1, or 2, but 11 BUS SHELTERS in a row on the Clock Tower to A B Shetty Circle stretch. Are these bus shelters really needed?- is a question many citizens are still asking, since they know the situation of bus shelters in the City, where not many commuters are using, other than beggars, homeless, and stray dogs. Then why were these 11 bus shelters planned when they don’t serve the purpose? And the bad part is that the buses stop wherever they want to pick up their passengers, and not at the bus shelters. As they say “Old habits die hard”, I guess the same applies to these bus drivers, no matter what awareness programmes you conduct for them, they still stick to their same old habits.

Where the bus shelters are really needed, they are not built. We have seen when MSCL or MCC undertake road widening projects, they demolish the old bus shelters to make way for the widening of the road, and once the new road is done, the commuters are left without a bus shelter. And this has been going on at each road widening project, and the concerned officials from MSCL or MCC turn a blind eye to such issues, even after complaints or people’s woes. Chaos prevails in some of the prominent bus stops in the City as buses haphazardly stop with little respect for the signage. Another thing is that commuters prefer not to stand at the shelters provided as most of the buses do not stop there. Then why even spend money on constructing bus shelters/stops when commuters don’t make use of them. In many of the bus shelters, you will either see dogs sleeping or drunkards/homeless people making it their shelter place- and the perfect example is all the 11 bus shelters where the homeless have made their SHELTERS!

And now we are seeing a nearly 500-metre road between the Clock Tower and A B Shetty Circle being transformed into a smart road, and as part of this project, apart from constructing wider footpaths (which is just another joke), 11 bus shelters have come up on that stretch of the road. The reason behind having 11 new bus shelters, since many government offices are located on this road stretch, and also that District Administration/DC offices are also nearby. Once the DC office is shifted to Padil, then what? What if the main bus stand is shifted to Kankanady Pumpwell, what is the use for spending big bucks on these new bus shelters? Anyways, as they say, “What’s the point crying over spilt milk”, similarly, now that these bus shelters have been completed, let’s not talk about them being there- but none of them has signs as to which “ROUTE BUSES STOP” at “WHICH BUS SHELTER AMONG THE 11 BUS SHELTERS”?

These new 11 bus shelters were put to use from June-July 2021, and to this day none of these bus shelters have displayed bus routes. Now with 11 bus shelters built close to each other, there is absolutely no planning or policy, when these bus shelters don’t serve the needs of the commuters. You see people waiting for their buses at one bus shelter, and their buses don’t stop there. There cannot be a worse hardship a commuter can face while waiting for a bus for a long time, and then the bus won’t stop there. At present among the 11 bus shelters, most of the buses stop only at the far end bus shelter near RTO/Dr A B Shetty Circle. If you look around the City, apart from this stretch of road from the Clock tower to A B Shetty Circle (now dead?) when it comes to the number of bus shelters to be built at a particular point as some important bus stops on certain places having more than two bus stops in a row, resulting in the bus drivers stopping according to their whims and fancies. In fact, there are no shelters at all at most of the bus stops in the newly added wards.

Speaking to Team Mangalorean, Ms Shanthi Rao working in a private firm who has been waiting for her bus at one of the 11 bus shelters said, “It’s very confusing for the people who wait for the bus where there are more bus shelters. We do not know where the bus stops. In such cases, we might also miss the bus and not reach the office in time. And that has been my case today, where I have been waiting for the last 20 minutes, and no buses stopped at this bus shelter whatsoever”. While Malcolm Pinto, a senior citizen says, “When we are waiting for the bus in a bus shelter, the bus might stop ahead in the next shelter. Also, if the same route bus numbers are plying at a particular time, the buses won’t even stop, unless there are commuters alighting at that destination. There is no proper display of route numbers on the bus shelters”.

It should be noted that as per an agreement entered with the advertisement agencies which earlier managed these bus stands, the firms will build and manage these new bus shelters. They will also share a part of the income with the city corporation. The Smart City has designed the bus shelters as it wants all the bus stands to look identical. The bus stands will have seating arrangements for the passengers apart from boards about which buses will stop there and advertisements. Gaps have been created on the footpath for the purpose of maintaining them green. The electric lighting presently provided is enough to cover the road to the divider. Henceforth, light poles will be built on both sides, and a bulb will be fitted at a height of nine metres. Bulbs will also be fitted at five metres height for lighting the footpaths, which will facilitate the people using the bus stands and also the others using the footpaths. Well said and planned, but in reality, at present, it’s all in vain.

If you look around Mangaluru Bus shelters, including these MSCL 11 new bus shelters, you will hardly find anyone standing there- instead it is a common sight to see commuters standing a little far away from the bus stops or beside the walls nearby even though a stipulated bus stop is built in that locality. If you look near Light House Hill where commuters still either stand below the tree in front of the Mosque or by the roadside waiting for their buses to arrive, in spite of three nice bus shelters very close by. Only a few students of the nearby college spend some leisure time at these bus shelters, other than that you don’t see any other citizens.

In spite of the traffic cops strictly instructing the drivers not to stop and pick up passengers at non-designated bus stops, it seems like no one cares- you can see buses stopping opposite Wenlock hospital to pick up passengers when they are not supposed to. Even the buses still stop opposite Syndicate Bank-Hampankatta, going towards Lighthouse Hill Road. There is absolutely no planning or policy when it comes to the number of bus shelters to be built at a particular point.

I have noticed, It’s very confusing for the people, especially visitors who wait for the bus where there are more bus shelters. They do not know where the bus stops. In such cases, they might also miss the bus and not reach their workplace or destination in time. Chances are that when the people are waiting for the bus in a bus shelter, the bus might stop ahead in the next shelter. Also, if the same route bus numbers are plying at a particular time, the buses won’t even stop, unless there are commuters alighting at that destination. There is no proper display of route numbers on the bus shelters either. Seems like there is a lot of disarray in the construction of more than one shelter at a particular stop between the planners.

All I have to say is that having more than one bus shelter is definitely confusing to the commuters as the bus might stop anywhere. Also when there is a bus shelter where commuters are not using it, chances are that illegal folks use it for illegal activities, also four-legged animals like stray dogs and cows use it for their shelter. After spending Crores on this project, officials should ensure the Buses stop there and not allow Drunkards and Druggies to use the facility. If not the hundred-plus homeless cum alcoholics will make these 11 BUS SHELTERS their NEW HOMES? The city and transport authorities have to come out with a solution as to how to put these deserted bus shelters in use again-one way they can do it is to educate the bus drivers or post bus route numbers/destination names in front of these deserted bus shelters.

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