During a trial run, five Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses were fitted with devices to track their movement and convey the information to waiting commuters through cell phone messages.
The trial took place on Wednesday at one of the busiest stops in SG Balekundri Circle, also known as Indian Express Circle.
Commuters waiting for their respective buses coming from Shivajinagar bus station showed much interest in the technology pioneered by a private company, iTrans. As an idea, they welcomed the global system for mobile (GSM) helping commuters with timely information on the location and scheduled arrival of buses. But memorising too many cell numbers for too many bus routes left them confused.
There is a dedicated number starting with 7829918 for all routes but the last three digits are different for each route of buses operated by the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC). For example, for bus route number ‘29’ plying between Shivajinagar and JP Nagar, a commuter waiting at a stop has to type TCOP, LF and send it to 7829918170. Immediately, he or she will get a response on the current location of the bus and whether it is stationary or moving.
“The technology is quite helpful. As we wait for the bus, we get a message on the mobile about where the bus has reached and when it will reach our stop. But the telephone number is different for each route and it’s difficult to memorise them all. Besides, there are so many sub routes. Hence, the system lacks clarity,” said Harish Kumar, a commuter who was waiting for a bus to Kormanagala.
Ram Honnavalli, chief operating officer of iTrans, tried to clear the confusion. “When a commuter wants to travel in a certain direction, he or she can type the short message ‘TCOP, LFU or TCOP, LFD” and send it to the dedicated number of that route and get information on all the buses on that route towards that direction and on the bus he will be able to take (at the earliest).”