Students, govt bus corporations blame each other for accidents

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‘Make campus of BU a no-go area for buses’

By Yukta Mudgal

In October 2022, two persons died in accidents involving buses of state-run corporations. An MSc student died nearly two weeks after she was run over while she was trying to board a BMTC bus. Another woman died after being hit by a KSRTC bus.

Students protested Shilpa Sree’s death on the Bangalore University campus and demanded a ban on vehicles, especially buses, on the campus. They criticized the driver’s negligence.

Naveen Kumar, a PhD scholar at the university, said: “We are demanding another road for buses and private vehicles. For two years, we have seen more than 35 accidents on the university road. After Shilpa Sree’s accident, we saw seven more accidents.” One person is still in a coma.

Kumar J, a KSRTC driver, said sometimes accidents happen because of drivers’ negligence; at other times they occur due to technical issues or bad roads. “But the people who get injured are, most of the time, hooked to their phones while walking on the road.”

“We drivers have a responsibility to take care of around 50 people sitting in the bus, we cannot take risks, so we drive cautiously,” he added.

Hanumaiah, assistant traffic superintendent, BMTC West Division, said: “We operate 6,000 buses which have had very few accidents; (there are) only 8-10 accidents every month.”

BMTC buses, each operating for 10 years, are meant to have a speed of 40 km per hour. If a driver tries to cross the limit, the bus stops running.

“Every year, we conduct training in our Magadi Road training centre for drivers to improve driving skills and kilometres per litre,” he said.

Asked about the Bangalore University accident on October 10, Hamumaiah said: “According to our knowledge, both the driver and the girl were responsible. The girl was using her phone while boarding the bus.”

Ramyarani S.K., a zoology student at the university, said students do not want buses inside the university premises. “If buses come and go at a particular time inside the campus, it’s fine. None of the universities, like Mysore University, Tumkur University or GKVK, allows vehicles inside the campus.”

Preetham N. Raj, a research scholar at the mathematics department, said: “We need the buses. But the road does not have a speed breaker. If the university provides buses, then everything would be fine.”

A KSRTC official who did not want to be named said: “For accidents, both the victim and driver should be held responsible.” About 2,400 KSRTC buses arrive in Bengaluru every day from various parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.

There is no particular reason for accidents; they can happen due to the driver’s fault or the geography of the roads. “There are no specific guidelines for drivers. We give them training on how to avoid accidents, especially while driving at night,” he added.

There are around 8,000 KSRTC buses. In the past three years, the government has not bought new buses due to a shortage of funds.

As per NCRB data, Karnataka was also one of the states with highest number of deaths — 8,797 — due to overspeeding on roads. Bengaluru had 3,213 cases of road accidents in the same year, accounting 5.8 per cent of the total cases.

Yukta Mudgal
Trainee Journalist at IIJNM.

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