‘We have buses but no drivers’: Bengaluru public transport faces staff shortage

Published on Sep 23, 2022 05:27 PM IST

Even as demand for public transport is on the rise, Bengaluru's BMTC is unable to cater to the needs of the city as it is short-staffed. Over thousand of its buses stay inoperative.

BMTC has around 6,771 buses but is currently operating only 5,660 of them owing to the staff shortage. (Photo by Samuel Rajkumar/ Hindustan Times)
BMTC has around 6,771 buses but is currently operating only 5,660 of them owing to the staff shortage. (Photo by Samuel Rajkumar/ Hindustan Times)
ByYamini C S | Edited by Chandrashekar Srinivasan

The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation faces a severe staff crunch and over 1,000 buses are lying idle - leaving commuters irritated - because there is nobody to drive them. The Times of India said the BMTC has around 6,771 buses but is operating only 5,660 at this moment. The city actually needs around 12,000 buses on its streets to provide effective mass public transport.

Srinivas Alavilli, who works with non-profit group Janaagraha, tagged chief minister Basavaraj Bommai and transport minister B Sriramulu in his tweet.

"Can you imagine having lot of demand & BMTC not able to run them due to lack of drivers? Need urgent action... to strengthen public transport."

READ | BMTC bus driver requests euthanasia in letter to President, PM

Media company The Morning Context published an infographic this month that showed Bengaluru is the only city with 60 buses for every 100,000 people.

However, given there has been no recruitment over the past few years to fill vacancies - many due to retirements - a staff crisis has been on the horizon.

READ | Here is how the BMTC is planning for buses to go conductor-less soon

The BMTC has said it will not be able to start recruiting staff on a permanent basis at this time due to a cash crush.

It plans to hire between 500 and 1,000 drivers on a temporary basis.

However, most people are wary of working as a temp BMTC driver because of low wages, compared to that offered as a private truck driver.

A senior BMTC official told The Times of India there must be five drivers/conductors per bus. "... to operate 6,800 buses (therefore) we will need 31,280 drivers and conductors... but we have only around 24,000."

READ | Bengaluru's BMTC buses may have to flock to private petrol bunks

Also, of the air-conditioned buses in the BMTC fleet, less than half are operational despite demand. Officials cited soaring diesel costs as the reason.

Moreover, most employees have been assigned a general shift - 8 am to 8 pm - which is why services are not available early morning and late night. Officials hope the new electric buses will be a breath of fresh air.

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