I strongly feel bus services in general need greater scrutiny and monitory regulations to ensure that they dont treat passengers like unwanted dirt. . On my way back, the bus always stops as the Pune station and asks passengers to de-board while the bus subsequently moves THROUGH the areas they actually have to alight (like Aundh), thats in order to take new Bombay passengers who would ensure another Rs.200 /250 or even more to the bus. Its gross coz having coughed up Rs. 600-700 or sometimes more, a passenger now is left stranded far away from home and the only way to get home is to take and auto who charges a cool Rs.100 or more. Since most of the folks are IT people, they are taken for granted and some unfortunately even oblige. The experience yesterday in the bus though sent my blood boiling. I was bringing my mother along in a National Travels supposed a/c volvo - which is supposed to be best in class. The shocks from even small potholed / cuts in the roads were so bad that we started experiencing stomach ache a little while into the journey. A crass, loud Govinda movie , one of the grossest / stupidest fares i was forced crazy to watch blared on for a good 3 hrs (thanks to CD slippage, repeat telecast at times) - i really do not understand why, why ON earth having paid good money do i have to suffer watching movies at all - that too the ones i hate. I do not understand why i cant just have my peace of mind back. In the last few journeys i watched similar frustrating fares - Agnipath, Shahenshah etc - movies well past their days and movies i hated nevertheless. The only time recently when i thought i saw a decent movie - it was pirated - Chak De was proubdly being shown when clearly the VCDhadnt officially come out! Moving on, I would have to tolerate a CRAMPED seat - the leg space yesterday was a shame coz i had to straighten my legs under the front seat in order to even survive, because of the drastic recline of passenger in front. I am not against the passeger here - i am againt the space usage in the bus - again some malicious commercial wickedness causing someone to have such crammy seating. But this was supposed to be a comfortable Volvo for which i dished out an equivalent of a 3 a/c railway fare...wheres the comfort. A little background here...my bus boarding timings were changed THRICE by the agents where i booked - national travels. They said 8.30 to begin with, then i get a call saying 7.00 pm (good i didnt get far away from home trusting these jokers as 8.30 being final) and asking me to come to their office by 6.30 and then again to 10 pm saying that the bus at 8.30nay 7.00 was cancelled since not many passengers booked tickets. WHAT! Not many...what am i then, a fool to have booked. And why isnt there a disclaimer on the ticket mentioning such a possibility. Well, I had to take my mom and wait outside their discrepit office/ shop near one of the busy junctions of Hyderabad. And the bus finally turns up at close to 11.00 pm. The name on the bus read Omar Travels - thename on my ticket reads National Travels. It sends only naturaly doubts - i ask them to the boy standing at he looks at me as if he wanted to land a punch and says rudely "Jaoo" pointing towards the bus door. I interpret that as a warm "welcome" and quickly help mom board the bus. I ask the boys to open the bus dickey and the guy again comes back saying..guess "jaaoo"! - I was like..phew. I asked him i needed to put my luggage and he rudely says it will be done at a later point and i am being shoved into the bus. Once in, the nightmare begins. Coming to the core of my complaint - my mother wanted to do with a toilet somewhere...now i know everyone will say somehing like "where will the bus driver manufacture a toilet from?". My question is, in a 10-12 hour drive, how do you expect the poor ladies travelers to suppress natures call -which is but natural while the men coolly troop down at every available opportunity and relieve themselves. Im not into men vs women here. I am trygin to address a basic gap in these services - if theres no loo in the bus, there has to be stopping points where decent toilet facilities (even if pay-and-use) should be mandatory, not even important. When i went to the driver to ask him about the same at some place the bus stopped, he shouted back so lound the WHOLE bus could hear "Idhar kaise rokoon. JAAKE BAITO, ye nonstop hai"...look at the guys audacity - he is actually ordering me around! He doesnt bother that an elderly lady has an issue. Id didnt probably strike him that they wasted our time - 2 hrs in the Hyd city while they were trying to load some luggage / awaiting some stock or whatever...that was ok.
I asked him to stop there, took my mom out who - poor thing - had to endure physical discomfort as well as danger and humilitation trying to relieve herself behind a bush in pitch dark banks of the highway. And then back we went, back to get cramped. What happened next would stoke my wrath - and i couldnt hold back any longer. A young mother with two litlle; sweet boys then asked if she could take her sons out - she was given the same reply - "nahi, BAiTO". I thought "Baito, for what dammit". I screamed at the guy - i said a kid cannot hold on and if he had common sense, he needed to use it. The mother quicly took the kid out - again into the pitch black outside the bus somewhere - I offered help and she smiled "i will be ok", despite being upset with these guys. Her elre son, some 10-11 yrs old also seemed under pressure and seemed intimidated by this whole situation when my mom read his mind and asked him - "Arre, tum bhi jaake karke aoo..." and off he went. The issue here is of basics of human transportations services - a very very essential basic. Next morning, reaching pune was some happiness, though expectedly this was shortlived - coz the bus would stop at the station and our hero-staff would again pose their nakras. Another incident even before it stopped was enough for use to decide to use Consumer forums / tribunals / courts to control this rowdy behaviour. The lady - alone with 2 dependent kids called the assistant boy (i dont know what u call them - but mostly all travelers employs these useless goon looking chaps instead of uniformed, clean shaven, well mannered guys)
"Bhaiyya, ye batao Mumbai ke XYZ area mein bus rukegi naa; wo aae to zara bata dena" (XYZ - i forgot the name she mentioned, but she was firm but very polite - i think it was on purpose). The guy - our hero comes up on the aisle, gives her a look, swiftly turns his back on her and is back at his seat right in front of the bus, behind the curtains!! Our lady probably wasnt expecting fantastic manners from this motley, thoroughly ungroomed people anyway, but she was yet taken aback. She then shouted for the guy to anwser the query and why he was behaving like that and the driver starts yelling at the lady!!!!! One suprise throughout this ordeal was not too many people in the bus seemed enthused or sympathetic to theladys concern. RUdely she was told "Nahi Rukegi", then "Aur ye Mumbai nahi hai". She just lost her cool. She was meant too...these guys were testing peoples patience and good behavior. She lost it, so did the driver and i joined in , so did my mom "What a shocking bunch?!" she repeatedly exclaimed. Though these guys were hitting the red, and i will ensure they will pay for it (i took the ladys number and told her i will get in t0ouch regarding their rdiciculous behavior - she looked a little better then, she said PLEASE lets do it); the larger problems we allsaw in this trip have been a disturbing and increasing commonality in bus services - a crudeness brought about by unwarrented flow of money is probably a huge reason. there are exceptions - HKB, Raj Travels, and some my sister travels on that she finds good - but they are a small minority.