Most public and private buses in Bangalore lack panic buttons, risking the security of thousands of passengers daily.
Currently, there are approximately 6500 buses owned by BMTC out of which only about 200 have panic buttons. A few of them also have CCTV cameras.
Satavisha Mallick, 21, who uses BMTC (Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation) buses on a day-to-day basis, said, “My parents always ask me to pick public vehicles over private cabs because of security reasons. But, if you ask me, it is better to use the private cabs because at least they have a GPS tracking system and SOS button of sorts which would actually work. Bus, on the other hand, does not have any way by which it can be tracked.”
Both the Central Government as well as the state government had made it mandatory for all public vehicles to install panic buttons along with VLT devices before January 1, 2019. The deadline for the same had been extended to July 31, 2019. The State Government had further proposed to integrate these buttons with the government safety apps so that as soon as passenger presses the button, the people are notified. Sadly, even half a year BMTC has failed to live up to the deadline.
“Currently, we are in the process of installing the panic buttons in all the new vehicles. As far as the old ones are concerned, we have proposed tenders, and once approved, we will start fixing these buttons there as well. The panic buttons in the BMTC buses will send a message to the Police Control Room and at present, we are still figuring out the process for the same,” M N Srinivas, Chief Mechanical Engineer (Productions), told the SoftCopy.
The Panic button and VLT devices in vehicles, when used, act as an alarm and send a message out to the police control room, indicating that the passenger needs immediate help. A passenger in trouble can press it to notify the surroundings. Additionally, it emits loud noises to alert the passerby.
Deepak N., Public Relations Officer, BMTC, said, “We are working 24×7 to make buses secure for passengers, especially women. Through our NIMBUS initiate, we have also installed CCTV cameras in most buses. What’s more, Pink Saarthis and women-only lounges are also available at the disposal of women in the city.”
The Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill 2019 states that each vehicle ought to have devices ‘which cause a sense of alarm or distress to the occupants of the vehicle, other road users, and persons near roads’.
Akriti Singh, an advocate, said, “The least that the government bodies can do is to take an initiative to ensure that the safety of passengers aren’t compromised. If they have already installed the buttons on some buses, then, why not install it in all of them. If the passengers keep bringing this issue in the limelight , only then this can be resolved. They ought to file a complaint to the concerned official in such cases.”