BMTC bus accidents prompt safety concerns

BMTC City Transport

In 33 percent of accident cases, the driver was solely at fault shows a 2023 study conducted by the Civil Engineering department of R V College.

The city has witnessed more than 100 accidents involving Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses till September this year. Commuters raise concern over careless driving.

According to data from the Traffic Management Centre, there were 84 fatal and 23 non-fatal accidents involving BMTC buses in the city till September 2023. In 2022, there were 118 recorded accidents involving BMTC buses, compared to 85 in 2021, a COVID year.

Sneha, a college student recalls an incident from two months ago near Shivajinagar, when a BMTC bus began moving before she had a chance to get off, causing her to lose her balance and fall down.

A study on road accidents due to BMTC buses, conducted by the Department of Civil Engineering of R V College of Engineering, mentioned that 92 percent of the bus passengers involved in fatal crashes died while boarding or exiting the bus.

Dr. Anilkumar Grampurohit, inspector at traffic management cell emphasized the importance of drivers being careful while reversing and navigating turns. “They should ensure that all passengers have disembarked before starting the vehicle, and must not keep the doors open until the bus completely stands still,” he added.

In 33 per cent of the cases, the bus driver was solely at fault.  The absence of dedicated bicycle lanes and pedestrian space also accounts for fatal crashes, the study mentions.

According to the Annual Administration Report of BMTC, North Zone has recorded the highest number of accidents involving BMTC buses in the 2021-22 period.

Vijay, a BMTC bus driver said, “All the accidents involving BMTC buses are not caused by our mistake, there are cases when private vehicles try to overtake via the left side and end up in the blind spot which is not properly visible to us, leading to accidents.”

But, police said that they must be more careful. “BMTC bus drivers must be made aware of the precautionary measures that they should adhere to while operating the vehicles,” added Mr. Grampurohit.

The BMTC, however, insist that they keep safety in mind. “Safety of passengers and public is the main objective of BMTC, and all driving staff and officers of the organization are working towards this end,” said Sunitha J, Public Relations Officer of BMTC.

Following the decision to celebrate the month of November as Road Safety Month, Mrs. Sathyavathi.G, IAS, Managing Director of the BMTC, issued an order to conduct an intensive training workshop on accident-free and safe driving practices for Divisional Controllers of the six zones and the drivers of all the units under their purview.

Ramesh, a BMTC bus driver from Kempegowda Bus Terminus said that trainings are conducted for one month every year. But Nawaz, a conductor had a different opinion, he said that he was unaware of the training programme.

The Annual Administration Report mentions that 6606 drivers and 4885 conductors and driver-cum-conductors have been given training during 2021-22.

Dhawal Ashar, head of the Sustainable Cities and Transport program at the World Resources Institute (WRI), suggested that BMTC can consider preparing a comprehensive bus safety action plan with the aim to reduce crashes to zero over the next five years. “This can include a comprehensive data-driven training, refresher program, and safety-linked incentives for drivers, conducting safety audits in all bus stops, terminal, and depot infrastructure to ensure rectification of potential safety risks,” he added.

“Bus crashes need to be addressed as a larger strategy to reduce overall road accidents in Bengaluru with a proper road safety management plan which includes a robust speed management plan,” Ashar added.