of bangalore and shameless bus conductors

There’s something really scary about the state of public transport in Bangalore. The bus conductors are also totally evil.

The reason this is unnerving is because Bangalore offers two modes of public transport to the common man – autorickshaws, and buses. While autorickshaw drivers are totally evil down to the bottom of their soul, I overlook this since this is the same in almost every Indian city. Maybe there’s an “Autowallahs and Satan” association panning Delhi, Bangalore and (reportedly) Chennai — with it’s primary mission to cheat and loot every customer till there’s none left. And it’s slowly invading Mumbai too, a city once known for the honest, professional auto-drivers who paid you back even the 50 paisa.

But I digress. This post is about bus conductors, who, in my eyes have always been the bastion of the strong-minded, hard-working but underpaid class that keeps the city running. Conductors in Delhi (DTC only, Bluelines are run by gremlins and don’t count) and Mumbai (BEST) are known for their no-nonsense attitude; but Bangalore busmen(and women — they have female conductors here) seem to weave a rather different tale. Not only are they spineless and corrupt, they try to assert their hallowed virtues onto the passengers as well. Here’s one of my many accounts with conductors on Bangalore buses:

Me: 1 ticket, Binnamangala please. (Hand him a ten rupee note, the ticket is for four rupees)
Him: (Takes note, returns six rupees, looks around)
Me: Excuse me, Ticket?
Him: makes face, offers me a one rupee coin
Me: Screw you! I don’t want your money, I want my ticket!
Him: Gives me an old, used six rupee ticket.
Me: What the….
Him: (Finally gives me the ticket I paid for.)

So what’s it with Bangalore that makes its conductors so evil? Considering the weather, the quality of life, the nature of the passengers; Bangalore conductors have a much better time than their Delhi and Mumbai counterparts. Maybe they’re paid really less salaries? I doubt it. Maybe they’re ex-auto drivers? Maybe. But what I believe is the real reason is the percentage of laptop-carrying, Nike-wearing bus passengers who give a damn for these trivial transactional details and would rather spend their precious time worrying about more important things.

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About the author:

Arnab Nandi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at The Ohio State University. You can read more about him here.


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