Mumbai: Your bus stop will be announced in 2 languages, but not by conductor

Updated: May 21, 2019, 14:02 IST | Rajendra B. Aklekar

Announcements will now be in Marathi and English on BEST buses and will be tagged with LED signboards

Mumbai: Your bus stop will be announced in 2 languages, but not by conductor

Bandra station! Chala utra! Tation aala!" these helpful announcements by your BEST conductor will no longer exist. His personal touch will soon make way for declarations recorded crisply and flawlessly in three languages, courtesy GPS-tracked data. The announcements, tagged with LED signboards, are becoming a common feature in the city's buses as part of the Rs 112 crore Intelligent Transport Management System project (ITMS).

BEST buses have a special place in Mumbai's social life, with generations recalling the nostalgia of punched paper tickets, the rope-pulled bells, the double decker buses, and the conductor calling out names of bus stops in his unique style.

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A speaker for the announcements in a BEST bus. The conductor's announcements about bus stops in his unique accent and style will be missed
A speaker for the announcements in a BEST bus. The conductor's announcements about bus stops in his unique accent and style will be missed

Each conductor was unique

"The precision, unique accent and style of each bus conductor while announcing stops will be missed. I remember, in the old days, I used to travel by route number 74 and the conductor used to shout, "Jail jaane waale utar jao...," when the Arthur Road bus stop arrived, and everyone used to turn their heads towards him and have a good laugh. Also the practice of requesting the conductor to alert a passenger when his particular stop arrives, will now slowly disappear. That camaraderie with the conductor can never be replaced by machines," city historian Deepak Rao said.

mid-day had reported about the ITMS project which will be launched in 2019, on March 14, 2018, 'Soon you will be able to track movement of BEST buses while waiting at stops.' It involves not just features like vehicle tracking that can enable waiting passengers to get prior real-time alerts on an approaching bus, but also scheduling of buses and their frequency. A passenger-friendly app that will feature the estimated time of arrival (ETA) of buses and the number of buses that will arrive at a particular depot in 10 minutes, is also supposed to be launched as part of the project.

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The speakers will announce bus stops' names in three languages
The speakers will announce bus stops' names in three languages

BEST officials said of its nearly 3,300 buses, the Vehicle Tracking System (through which the announcements will be made) has been installed on 1,246 buses and the Passenger Information System will be installed on 1,899 buses. Eventually both the systems will be integrated and installed on all buses. The app will include both systems. The trials are being conducted at Backbay and Wadala depot.

Too fast or too slow

mid-day decided to go on a test drive of a few buses with the GPS trackers installed and this is what it came up with: In the first case, we caught bus number 9 that plies between Nadkarni Park, Wadala and Colaba bus depot. The bus had an LED system on display and announcements of bus stops in three languages. The announcements were too fast at some point or too slow at some, and were heard after the bus left the stop. The Regal Cinema bus stop was announced after the bus had left the stop. The driver and the conductor had no clue how to fix it.

In the second case, on route number 181 between SEEPZ-Andheri and Antop Hill, there was proper information on LED name boards syncing with announcements, but the voice was too loud at some points.

Wrong announcements

In the third case, we took the bus route 310 that plies between Bandra Terminus and Kurla station a number of times, and found several points that need correction. In one of the buses, we found the route announcement was reversed, and the system became the laughing stock among commuters. This happened because the bus was travelling in the opposite direction of the route set on the speakers. At times, the LED boards on display were of the wrong route. There is also a case of a missing bus stop on this route. In the route chart, when the bus travels from Bandra to Kurla, the announcement and LED displays list out the BKC Telephone Exchange stop, after which it directly states the Kurla bus depot stop, skipping the Anjanabai Magar bus stop which lies at the junction of LBS Road and BKC. This is a crucial bus stop where most of the commuters on the way to Kurla station alight.

'Issues will be resolved'

A BEST official said problems will be fixed as the process is streamlined. "We are aware that there are small issues with the new system and we are rectifying them. These are teething troubles and will be corrected as the system settles. The project also involves training staff and an app which will help commuters get real-time updates on bus movement. The issues were discussed in the BEST meeting early this week and we intend to complete the project in 2019," BEST chairman Anil Patankar told mid-day.

Also Read: Woman riding pillion crushed under wheels of BEST bus in Malad

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