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Old 27th October 2010, 21:38   #1
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Default Small fleet (like Blue Line in NCR) Buses and Accidents

This has been lying in my mind for a long time now; but this news compels me to start a thread on this:

End of road for 1,600 Blueline buses in Delhi from Thursday - The Economic Times

Somebody on this forum once described the private buses in Kerala, as "yamraj"s. Being a former pvt. bus operator, I winced, and smiled.

And they are not any better in Delhi, apparently.

I had visited Delhi sometime in 1996, and was surprised to see a friend's friend on the same train, who was taking his bike along for a short (around 5 days) visit. His justification was that the cost of taking a bike all the way from Kerala to DL and back would be far less than cost of hiring autos in Delhi. I asked him, why don't you stick to buses?

"you are going to DL for the first time, arn't you?", and that was the truth.

In the 3 or 4 days I spent there, I spent close to 500 rupees wandering around on autos. Waiting for 2-3 hours for a bus made me a wiser guy in first few hours after landing there.

That was around the time blue line buses were launched. But I did travel in a few of them on that occasion. What stuck me was that they were driven almost the same way the private buses in KL were driven.

But, it went out of my mind very quickly, I was no longer a bus operator. But, every now and then, when Delhi's buses hit the headlines for killing one or two, (and the buses in KL made one cm news when they killed three or four), the similarity stuck me - why were both buses causing almost same kinds of accident rates?

Somewhere around that time, I stumbled upon a govt. of Kerala publication, and there were statistics of KSRTC buses, and overall accident rates in KL. What stuck me was KeSRTC had a very small accident rate.

Somewhere in between, HCVs in KL had hit the headlines as a result of the Kerala High Court making it compulsory to have speed governors. Some guy had filed a PIL saying that speed governors would make an impact.

Though speed governors were introduced, they did not make any difference to the accident rates.

But, there was another writ petition before the Kerala HC, and this was NOT a PIL. This one was filed by some bus operator. He wanted to fire some of his staff. In KL, these guys are called "kili", literally meaning "bird"; but appears to be a corruption of English "cleaner". These were the guys who stood at the gates and opened them at every stop, and rang the bell for the conductor. Inflation was taking its toll on the operators' margins, and one of them decided to do away with "kilis". For some reason, the HC allowed this, and the buses in Ernakulam city which benefitted from that order no longer had Kilis. They also did away with doors. I did keep a close watch on these buses, just out of curiosity.

In a few months, the difference was obvious - they were comparatively scratchless and dentless.

Living for 2 years in Trichur region reinforced my suspicion - buses without "kilis" were scratchless.

While I do not have accident rates for such buses, I do feel that these other staffers on the bus, whatever you call them, do goad the driver into overspeeding, banging on the door, telling the driver if it "safe" when vehicles / two wheelers appear in his blind spots, etc., often misjudging here, and causing accidents.

Else, there is no reason why Ke SRTC / DTC AND pvt buses without these "kili"s have lower accident rates than other private buses.

a few months down

And the reason I post this - Delhi has a shortage of public transport; those 1600 buses cater to a class of passengers, and taking them off the road, without putting in place an equal or larger number of vehicles would mean more private vehicles on already over polluted NCR.

Flames / brick bats / boquets welcome.
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Old 29th October 2010, 01:05   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BaCkSeAtDrIVeR View Post
This has been lying in my mind for a long time now; but this news compels me to start a thread on this:

End of road for 1,600 Blueline buses in Delhi from Thursday - The Economic Times


And the reason I post this - Delhi has a shortage of public transport; those 1600 buses cater to a class of passengers, and taking them off the road, without putting in place an equal or larger number of vehicles would mean more private vehicles on already over polluted NCR.

Flames / brick bats / boquets welcome.

A thought provoking thread on the forum after a very long time.

The Delhi government did order nearly 2000+ buses prior to the CWG and quite a few of them are already on the road. As per the article (link attached) 1600 new DTC buses are already plying and the transport minister is on record to take the number up to 10000 in all. Well the minister concerned used to be Delhi's education minister earlier and is known to be quite dynamic. Given the red tape and the usual loopholes even if the numbers go up to say 4000 that coupled with the now in place DMRC network should give the face of public transport in the Capital a complete makeover.

Now if only something could be done regarding the three wheelers both the motorized and the foot pedal powered ones.

Here's the link End of the road for Delhi 'killer' buses

EDIT BTW BaCkSeAtDrIVeR, in the above article your observations regarding the presence of Killis being directly related to the rate of accidents mirror themselves in the figures related to the accidents involving Blue lines complete with their cleaners and the DTC's without any.

Last edited by khoj : 29th October 2010 at 01:13.
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Old 29th October 2010, 04:38   #3
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Another reason (and it's not as far-fetched as it sounds) could be that some of the more experienced "kilis" are relieving the driver and taking the wheel from time to time.

I moved to Delhi in 1996, and it was the time that Bluelines were slowly replacing Redlines (as they were called in the first half of the 1990s). The reason for the name/colour change? Redlines were causing too many accidents! I'm not joking; this was reported in the Hindustan Times, which was quoting some senior transport official. And I did travel in those buses for about six months before succumbing and buying a motorcycle.
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Old 29th October 2010, 09:09   #4
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Are we not missing other factors?
1. Fleet operators livelihood depend on the collections for the day. Not sure of Blue lines but I believe in Kerala, there is more pressure on these drivers drive fast to collect as many passengers at stops by stopping for more time and speeding in between to make up lost time.
2. It is more easier for a newbie driver to start driving for private bus operator. The operator may not care about his skills. In case of Govt bus drivers, he has to undergo mandatory training. Also his life is more secure.

Last edited by DWind : 29th October 2010 at 09:10.
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Old 29th October 2010, 12:18   #5
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i feel every fleet operator who operates public buses in any city must get buses similar to the new AL JnnruM CNG buses in Mumbai, they are super slow, and dont climb on any fly over. Simple equation, no speed so less accidents. . Personally i hate those buses but it may be good for cities like delhi where there are more accidents.
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Old 29th October 2010, 12:44   #6
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I don't know about DL, however, IMO, the buses in KL are extremely fast, but they don't violate laws as much as they do in TN, AP or KA. Its very rare to see even a cyclist in wrong lane.

In my perception, KL's bus accidents are caused by overspeeding, but in DL or TN they're caused due to less common sense. I mean, when driving inside the city, why overspeed? Why not move along the traffic & instead simply wander here & there all along the lanes (this has been discussed to death all over).

But this is a good observation @BSD. Even if one compares the condition of these private buses in KL versus the buses in TN (again, I don't know about DL) they're far better, vibrates less, have sharp brakes & crisp engines compared to rattling buses that makes our vision blurred due to vibrations!!!
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Old 29th October 2010, 13:50   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWind View Post
Are we not missing other factors?
1. Fleet operators livelihood depend on the collections for the day. Not sure of Blue lines but I believe in Kerala, there is more pressure on these drivers drive fast .
I'm afraid I have to disagree here. There used to be a "collection batta" scheme in private buses; and that was introduced in the Ke SRTC too. But, accidents rates remained same, without or without the "collection batta". Public/media did decry the "collection batta" scheme when some serious accidents occurred, but overall, the actual accident rates remained unchanged.

Again, the theory that private bus owners pressurise the drivers to drive fast, should hold good for buses without the "kilis". It does not.

.
Quote:
to collect as many passengers at stops by stopping for more time and speeding in between to make up lost time.
Again, buses without the "kilis" spend less time idling at stops and do not go as fast the buses with "kili"s. That is why I feel that these "kili"s make a difference.

Quote:
2. It is more easier for a newbie driver to start driving for private bus operator. The operator may not care about his skills. In case of Govt bus drivers, he has to undergo mandatory training. Also his life is more secure.
Absolutely yes; average age of drivers on private buses is very less. It is very difficult to find persons above 40 driving private buses. Yes, there are several of them, but only a handful.

My guesstimate - only 5% of private bus drivers are above 40; Most are between 28 and 35; about 15% are below 28.

Most Ke SRTC bus drivers have graduated from private bus drivers; and I still find most of the guys who left our buses on Ke SRTC.

Those who cannot make to Ke SRTC either join Tourist/ contract buses or run their own taxi / ricks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
In my perception, KL's bus accidents are caused by overspeeding, but in DL or TN they're caused due to less common sense. I mean, when driving inside the city, why overspeed? Why not move along the traffic & instead simply wander here & there all along the lanes (this has been discussed to death all over).
A bus (or any vehicle) moving at 12 KMPH is deadly when the overall traffic moves at 10 KMPH.

Quote:
But this is a good observation @BSD. Even if one compares the condition of these private buses in KL versus the buses in TN (again, I don't know about DL) they're far better, vibrates less, have sharp brakes & crisp engines compared to rattling buses that makes our vision blurred due to vibrations!!!
I dunno about what you mean by "sharp brakes"; but that is usually the driver braking late.

"crisp engines" are "super tuned" engines. Fuel pumps are tuned for better pickup. That cannot happen without owner's knowledge.

Lack of rattling - usually due to better build quality. KL buses use 1.5/2 inch MS angles, TN buses use 1 / 1.25 Inch angles / squares for body frames. I am speaking of home brew bodies, not branded bodies. Also, TN buses usually are bigger. (mostly Viking chassis).
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Old 29th October 2010, 14:03   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BaCkSeAtDrIVeR View Post
My guesstimate - only 5% of private bus drivers are above 40; Most are between 28 and 35; about 15% are below 28.
Strongly agree!!! I once travelled from EKM to MVPA in a private bus & the driver saar looked like a boy in teens

Quote:
Originally Posted by BaCkSeAtDrIVeR View Post
A bus (or any vehicle) moving at 12 KMPH is deadly when the overall traffic moves at 10 KMPH.
The viceversa is also deadly, that's why I said, move along with the traffic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BaCkSeAtDrIVeR View Post
I dunno about what you mean by "sharp brakes"; but that is usually the driver braking late.
If the same late braking technique is done here, then, God alone save everyone!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BaCkSeAtDrIVeR View Post
"crisp engines" are "super tuned" engines. Fuel pumps are tuned for better pickup. That cannot happen without owner's knowledge.
Ofcourse it is "invested" by the owner; otherwise the drivers & "kilis" do not stay as their collection will be less & yielding to overall less profits. Offlate I've been observing that these morons do not give tickets to passengers attributing to black money . Anyway, this is not the main issue to be discussed here!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BaCkSeAtDrIVeR View Post
Lack of rattling - usually due to better build quality.
That's exactly what I meant; driving a well maintained bus at 60 Kmph & late braking is far superior compared to poorly maintained bus at 40 kmph & careless braking!!!

Regarding your comment on Yamaraj, you being at Thrissur, I don't need to point out how these guys drive between Thrissur & Wadakkanchery road. That is for sure a death race!!!
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Old 29th October 2010, 15:18   #9
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^^^ Not just the Wadakkancherry route, the Thrissur - Palakkad route as well. There were instances where the private bus crew added kerosene in the diesel to get extra "power", sort of NOS for diesels. I don't know how far it helps, but there were raids by Police and many of them were booked. Well, it'd happened 2-3 years back.

There is an old and famous (or, infamous) operator in Palakkad, who owns a handful of buses, most of them plying between the town and Railway Colony side. They are known to be a bunch of rogues with deeeeeeeep pockets that they evade even the road tax, cause accidents and go scott free
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Old 29th October 2010, 16:09   #10
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Actually kerosene is used to make the fuel cheap. It does not boost power, but actually lowers the power a bit. But the cost advantage (immediate) offsets all other odds.
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Old 29th October 2010, 16:22   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BaCkSeAtDrIVeR View Post
Absolutely yes; average age of drivers on private buses is very less. It is very difficult to find persons above 40 driving private buses. Yes, there are several of them, but only a handful.

My guesstimate - only 5% of private bus drivers are above 40; Most are between 28 and 35; about 15% are below 28.

Most Ke SRTC bus drivers have graduated from private bus drivers; and I still find most of the guys who left our buses on Ke SRTC.
When you mention private bus operators, the above said will hold good only for single bus operators, company run operators do keep their best drivers for their most competitive routes.

Backseat driver, since you are from Muvatupuzha you may know this. PPK runs a LS service on Kothamangalam - Bison Valley route, they make sure a guy nicknamed 'pallan' ( due to his protruded teeth) drives it.
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