Monday, 26 May 2014

The Horror-Coaster named BRTS

For those of you who are not aware, BRTS is a public transport system that stands for Bus Rapid Transit System. It is an exclusive system of transport since it runs on its own track that is built in the middle of all the major roads of a city. It has its own platforms, dedicated service routes, rapid availability and is given priority at crossroads. Oh and yes, more than half the buses are air conditioned since it can get pretty hot here in Gujarat, yeah very hot.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

Leaving the fact that having two public transport systems running on the roads here in Ahmedabad creates havoc with traffic since the police just seem concerned with fining people without helmets; let me get to the point. I had the opportunity to travel in the BRTS on a Sunday evening at peak hour. Here is a timeline of what happened that evening:

08:00 pm: We reach the nearest BRTS platform, buy our ticket and wait for the bus which should have come with 10 minutes.

08:30 pm: The first bus in half an hour arrives with at least 50 people crammed into it. We get into it nonetheless because we don’t want to wait another half hour for the next one.

08:45 pm: We both get separated inside the bus with people jostling to get in and out at the biggest crossroads we stop at. My friend panics since it’s her first time in public transport. She pleads with her eyes for me to stand next to her.

08:55 pm: I finally manage to get her next to me after seizing an opportunity while people were getting down at a stop. She is relieved, a LOT.

08:59 pm: We get off to change buses at a junction where two routes intersect. We breathe in open air after 29 minutes.

09:01 pm: Fortunately, the next bus arrives ‘Rapidly’ and we climb on despite of it brimming with people – again.

09:06 pm: People are swaying from side to side as our apparently drunk driver kept swinging the vehicle into turns that Schumacher would be proud of. I had to literally put both of my hands on either side of my friend and brace myself on the holding bars to prevent falling over her and others the next time he stopped the bus.

09:12: pm: The driver stopped the bus – not at a platform or because of traffic at crossroads, but because our bus had run out of diesel! Unbelievable! And the worst part is that commuters were not even informed of the same. He just pulled over and got off the bus to talk to another driver who had stopped ahead of us.

09:20 pm: it was only after he climbed into his seat and started the bus that he let us know that the bus had run out of fuel and that he’d had to borrow some from the other bus.

09:23 pm: The bus stopped so violently that almost all the people standing in the aisle went tumbling to the floor and some even from their seats. Fortunately I had braced myself so well that my friend and I managed to stay on our feet. There was an immediate uproar among those who had fallen. People accused the driver of being drunk and even threatened to complain about him at the next platform and have his license revoked.

09:24 pm: Passengers up front attempt to convince those in the back that a bicyclist had tried to cross the road in front of the bus and had the driver not stepped on the brakes, he would have been run over. The bicyclist was wearing sunglasses – in the night – I saw it!

09:25 pm: Enraged passengers get off the bus at the very next platform and try to get the driver to get off the bus so that they could possibly beat him to pulp but he managed to start the bus and we were on our way again. One good thing that came out of this mess was that everyone was alive and the bus was relatively empty for the rest of the way.

09:30 pm: we finally reached our platform and got off the bus with a sigh of relief that I hadn’t let out in a very long time.

It took us exactly one and a half hour to get to a place where it would have taken just 45 minutes to reach at the most, had we used our own vehicles. And it would have been without all the unsavoury incidents that took place along the way.

Talk about a memorable Sunday!

My friend Shruti Chaturvedi also wrote a hilarious piece on the BRTS recently, you can read it here: The BRTS.

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