Travelling on Bus Footboard is DANGEROUS and also Pose HARDSHIPS to Other Commuters
Mangaluru: Recalling the incident that took place on Wednesday, 30 August, where a 23-year-old private city bus conductor died of injuries after he was thrown out of a moving bus at Nanthoor junction in the city. The police gave the name of the deceased Eraiah, a native of Bagalkot district and presently residing at Tadambail near Surathkal. He was working on a private bus named Arasu/ Rajalaxmi plying on Route No.15 J, between Surathkal and Mangaladevi. The incident occurred in the afternoon when driver Shivanand M. Patil took a sharp right turn at the junction from Nanthoor towards Shivabagh-Kadri.
The conductor, who had reportedly helped clear the traffic jam by getting off the bus, jumped into the vehicle as the driver began moving. As he was standing on the front footboard, the victim lost balance when the driver took the right turn and was thrown out onto the road. The traffic police and members of the public shifted him to a hospital in an autorickshaw. He succumbed to injuries late in the evening. The Traffic East police have registered a case and are investigating.
Recalling yet another incident that took place on 7 September 2022, where Yashraj, aged 16, a First-year Computer student of St Aloysius PU College, Mangaluru who was travelling on a private bus standing on the footboard, faced a tragic death. While the bus was travelling at a high speed, when it stopped near Kallapu, Yashraj was thrown out of the bus and was critical with head injuries. He was quickly rushed to Indiana Hospital, and even though he was in ICU under treatment, for a week he was declared BRAIN DEAD due to his internal head injuries on 13 September.
In a kind gesture, his grieving parents decided to donate their son’s organs for a good cause. Yashraj was the son of Ullal Mastikatte residents Tyagaraj, a restaurant owner in Ullal and Ms. Mamata, a teacher at Joyland School in the City. On 14 September, a Team of doctors arrived from Manipal Hospitals, Bengaluru to carry on with the process of Organ Harvesting/Transplanting. His organs were donated to a hospital in Bengaluru, Manipal and Indiana Hospital. Following an investigation, the Bus Driver Karthik Shetty and Conductor Dhamsheer were arrested for their negligence and carelessness, and booked under the sections IPC 279, 336, and 304 and both were produced before the court.
Even after the incident after the fatal death of a conductor, Team Mangalorean this morning noticed that almost every conductor was seen standing or hanging the footboard, thereby putting their lives at risk. Responding to the incident which took place at Nanthoor causing the death of a conductor, City Police Commissioner Kuldeep Kumar R. Jain directed all private bus operators, city, service as well as express, to install doors and keep them shut when buses are on the move.
“Footboard travel by passengers as well as the conductor is strictly prohibited. Bus operators should focus on the safety of passengers instead of focusing on maintaining the timing. This step is anticipated to enhance the overall safety of passengers, particularly during sudden manoeuvres or stops. Under no circumstances should anyone be allowed to stand on the footboard of the buses, which also includes conductors, who are traditionally seen hanging onto the footboard while performing their duties. By adopting a safety-first approach, bus operators can contribute to a safer commuting environment for everyone.
Travelling in a city or service bus by people, especially students, think it is fun, not knowing the danger to their lives. Despite awareness campaigns and stringent actions, the dangerous act of travelling on the footboard of buses continues unabated in the city. It is prevalent in both government and private buses; bus crews have been instructed to prevent it. In the absence of other modes of public transportation, the pressure on road traffic continues to increase. Either there is an increase in the number of vehicles, causing traffic snarls on roads, or the buses are fully packed, leading to travel on footboard during peak hours.
During the peak hours (7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.), one could observe commuters travelling on the bus footboards in the City. The major reason for footboard travelling is the lack of an adequate number of buses. In most buses, the number of passengers standing is higher than the capacity of the bus, and the sad part is that neither the Transport Department nor traffic police are penalising such buses as per the Motor Vehicles Act. Although a potentially fatal activity, footboard travelling is considered only a “minor offence” and is penalised under Section 177 (General provision for punishment of offences) of the Motor Vehicles Act, according to the Transport Department official. Even that attracts a meagre fine and it fails to act as a deterrent.
With schools and colleges reopening in the city, the familiar sight of students squeezing onto the footboards of buses while commuting has made a comeback too. Footboard travel continues unchecked Overcrowding, daredevilry and high demand for buses triggering unsafe travel habits among students, and adults. Romanticized in movies and in viral online videos, young travellers are ignoring their safety for the sake of cheap thrills, and we can also see conductors hanging on the footboard, doing ‘CIRCUS?’ Despite the availability of buses with full seating, passengers seem to prefer standing on the footboard rather than getting inside. Footboard travel is not only dangerous but also deters others from hailing the bus at the next stop because it tends to look overcrowded.
It looks like students are doing this just for the sake of taking selfies or impressing their friends with their daredevilry. Despite the RTO official and police efforts, it is still possible to see young male students jamming themselves into the footboard area with their rucksacks. At some colleges, especially after classes get over in the evening, buses tend to fill up very quickly. Since the frequency of the service, especially to rural suburbs has been reduced during the pandemic, children have no other option than to hang on to the window grills, because they do not want to miss the bus.
One young PUC student said they prefer to travel on footboards mainly to make the girls notice them. “Usually the girls sitting inside the bus would turn back and notice the boys travelling on footboard. It gives us courage and confidence to speak to the girls when they come out of the bus,” he said. Unfortunately, when they fall off the footboard, it is the public who notices them, and not the girls. Even if there is enough room inside, most of the youth prefer to put their lives at risk by hanging on to the railings of the footboard, clutching their lives in their hand. Their reason is simple: To impress girls.
Another college student who travels from Thokkottu to Jyothi Circle to attend his classes at a private college near Light House Hill Road said: “From class X onwards, I am a ‘footboard traveller’. I prefer to travel on the rear footboard only when the speed of the bus is too much. If the speed is higher, there is always a chance to fall down. We footboard travellers have two benefits. One, we will be able to see the girls inside the bus and those waiting in each and every stop. On each step, six boys can travel. In total, a bunch of us can stand on the footboard freely.”
With the increase of educational institutions in DK/Mangaluru, standing on the footboards of buses has gone up among students, and the officials need to get tough. The unsafe practice by students has become a common sight in almost all city buses, particularly those plying on long routes daily. The unsafe travel is attributed to various reasons like inadequacy of an efficient public transport system, and lack of awareness on the risk of standing on the footboards of running buses. However, both the police and officials are taking measures to curb the practice but to no avail.
According to a senior Road Transport Authority (RTA) officer, passengers travelling on the footboard pose a great risk as the chances of hitting other vehicles overtaking from the left side, dividers, electricity poles or tree branches. “It is better not to travel on the footboard under any circumstances in any type of motor vehicle. The fatal and not-fatal mishaps due to footboard travel in the city buses happen, but not more. But the practice of footboard travel by the students is continuing. After all these measures taken so far are not enough as collective efforts are needed, and footboard travel is attributed to many reasons, but overloading of buses is one of the main reasons,” he added.
A retired college professor speaking to Team Mangalorean said “It’s pointless to lose precious life and time over ignorance. I have seen youth carelessly hanging from the bus and chasing them thinking they are part of a Bond movie. Deploying more buses, especially for students, will be a key solution to the problem.” Hope the concerned authorities in the RTO and police department will come up with strong plans to curb people travelling on bus foot boards, and putting their and others’ lives at risk.