After finding myself at the receiving end of rash driving and hooliganistic behavior of bus drivers of the Bangalore Metropolitian Transport Corporation (BMTC), I posted this letter to Bangalore Traffic Police on their Facebook account:
Dear Bangalore Traffic Police
I wish to draw your attention to the reckless and life-threatening manner in which BMTC buses are driving on the Outer Ring Road. While I have seen such instances earlier, today I had to experience it personally.
I was driving on the ORR stretch between Sarjapura and Marathalli today morning at around 11 AM. After passing the Bellandur flyover, I was driving in the center lane. A BMTC Volvo bus was in the left most lane and picked up speed after picking up passengers from the Bellandur bus stop (just after the flyover). This bus eventually came beside me to my left and attempted to swerve to my lane in order to overtake a vehicle that was in front of it (in the left lane).
The method followed by BMTC drivers to ram their way through traffic is to basically get close to another vehicle in order to intimidate them into yielding the lane. When I refused to do so, the driver further came close to my car. At its nearest, the bus was no more than 3-4 inches from my left ORVM – and mind you, this was at a speed of about 60 kmph. This was an extremely dangerous manoeuver which could have resulted in a very serious accident. My wife, who was in the front passenger seat, could literally feel the bus and was very scared by this.
When I lowered my window glass and gestured at the driver as to what exactly he was trying to do, he gestured in a typically unpleasant manner to me to “buzz off” (to put it politely). This really angered me and I overtook the bus and slowed down the car to a halt and asked the driver what exactly his problem was (albeit sitting in the car itself). In hindsight, I should not have done this, but I was really outraged at that point of time.
At this point, another BMTC bus overtook me and, obviously having noticed the verbal altercation, the driver halted his bus positioning it in front of my car at a 45 degree angle, with a view to prevent me from “escaping”, and in the process blocking at least two (if not all three) lanes of the road! A third bus was perhaps behind this second bus (to the right of the first bus).
All crew from these three buses alighted and came to the passenger window (where my wife was sitting) and jutted in their heads and hands and started physically threatening me. Clearly, bus drivers have learnt from their rickshaw driver friends in how to gang up and intimidate anyone who questions them. The other drivers did not even know what the issue was, they just ganged up to support their colleague.
Anyway, I replied back saying that the first driver was driving so rashly that he almost drove me off my lane. Simultaneously, my wife was asking them to calm down because our infant baby was also in the car. This, coupled with the efforts of one of the bus conductors who was also trying to pacify them, they finally withdrew and started going back towards their buses.
Points to be noted here are:
1. Dangerous and potentially life-threatening driving: These drivers are carried away by the powerful Volvo buses they are driving, and almost driving them like personal SUVs. They make sudden lane changes at high speeds which is extremely dangerous.
2. Abusive and hooligan-like behavior. Just imagine, the driver of the second bus parked his Volvo at a 45 degree angle on the road, in front of me. Had it been cars instead of buses, someone would have thought that some gang war was taking place! If there were people from outside Bangalore/India in the Volvos, they would have been surely terrified at this rowdy-like behavior.
I have taken a picture of the number plate of the bus which was parked at 45 degree angle in front of me (this photo is taken by me sitting in the driver’s seat – you can almost make out that the bus is not parallel to my car). I could not capture the number plate of the first bus that was being driven rashly. I also could not get a shot of the entire bus parked in front, it would have made for a great front-page photo. However, I have attempted to illustrate how the buses were placed – please see the photo, you have to see it to believe that a Govt. owned public transport bus can be parked like this!
I am not asking anything for myself here, as nothing major happened to me personally. I am just hoping that BTP and BMTC will caution the city bus drivers to drive in a disciplined and professional manner and not like race drivers.
As for me, I repeat that I regret having parked my car in front of the bus and having forced him to slow down. I shouldn’t have done this, and instead just taken a picture of the bus number plate and reported it later.
Based on my letter, I am pleased to report that the BTP swung into action, announcing a “special drive” against rash driving and other traffic violations by all Govt. vehicles, including BMTC buses.
Details of the matter and BTP’s special drive can be found in the following media reports: