December 21, 2010

Bluelines. Please don't go. Please...

As part of 'beautification' and 'modernization' drive for undergoing now-over CWG in Delhi, Delhi Govt. has been purchasing swanky new low floor AC and Non AC buses and adding them to DTC fleet of 'khataaraa' dirty yellow-green buses. And while doing this, they have also been removing an equal number of blueline buses. (Update: now the Govt. has decided to get rid of all the buses once and for all, by the end of January 2011). And that is bad news for me. I strongly oppose this decision.

Honorable SC of India has already said that Delhi needs at least 10,000 buses for the current population in order to get a respectable public transport structure. Removing buses like this isn't going to help in anyway, since we only have just over half the required capacity. Well, Delhi Govt. is trying to get the private sector also into public transport, but it may take a lot of time.

Even if we get the required number of buses to travel, I have got my own reasons for not letting them go:

1. They got the music: A no. of blue line bus drivers keep their jukebox (the FM radio or an audio cassette player). And they do care for passengers, so many of them have fitted speakers at the front and rear side of the bus. How many DTC buses do that? Now, since I still don't have a PMP of my own (update: I have got a new #walkman :), I don't mind listening to some 'thadkte bhadakte' tracks on the way (Never mind its my exams and travelling time is critical for successful revision). It may happen that the driver/conductor like old sad songs, which doesn't suit your genre of rock/rap/sufi. So, travelling can become pain in the ears also. But hey you get to hear some new genre, right?

2. They got the speed: Thanks to media, bluelines have got the #killer tag. So, govt had to force them to install 'speed limiter'. But blueline operators are very good automobile engineers. A no. of them modified the limiter, so they aren't limited to 40 kmph speed. And as a result, travelling in DTC sometimes gives me a feeling that I am riding an F1 car. Start, first gear, second, third, forth , fifth, slow down, take sharp turn, back to forth gear, bend the bus, full throttle, maneuver traffic, overtake the cycle (no no, don't crush him.. shit). Ohh... what a rush. But well DTC people don't even need to do it. They don't stop at the stops, so they always win the race, anyway.

3. They got the attitude: Blueline staff is considered to be rude (As if our PM gave behavioral training to DTC staff), but then the commuters are no good either (Blueline: only place where students are considered school/college staff). And if you don't have the Haryanvi accent, you are no good Goddamn blueline conductor. "Aagene/peechne hole bhai, thare liye aage/peeche sofe biche hain" "Puri khali padi hai ustaad". Travelling in blueline requires huge amount of stamina, endurance, and flexibility. If you lack any of these, you are as good as a mashed potato (route no. 721 in morning).

4. They got the inferiorstructure infrastructure: I have travelled in all kinds of buses.. seatless, paneless, topless.. But they still try and give you the best infrastructure possible. No seats? You can sit on the bonnet if you want, or spare tyres. No window pane? Don't whine, you couldn't have asked for a better air-conditioner (hey I am not joking, its completely natural and free, you aren't making any carbon footprints, alright). Some seats are so mangled modified that you get the feeling you are inventing a new Yoga asana, sitting on them. And just beware of those nails coming out from the sides and seats; one miss and you may get an unwanted body piercing. Quite an adventure really.

5. They got the bus: You thought you paid the fare and the bus is yours for the taking? Its still their bus, they will start, stop, drive, stop, rest, stop, talk, stop, pee, stop, fight, stop whenever they want. "Late aap hain, hum nahin". You got a problem, go take another bus (amazingly your bus fare is always refundable). After travelling in a blueline, don't be surprised if you get jet-lag! May be thats why they make you jump off the bus, that way you can at least feel your leg. Talk about second hand suicide.

And well if blueline really go away, who will blow that encoded whistle, use that coin as an instant messenger, flirt with the 'ladies savaari'?

Has govt. ever thought that may be the name 'blueline' itself has some problem, rather than blueline buses. You see, whatever you call blueline becomes a nightmare. I mostly hear about blueline of metro developing problems rather than any other line. And who can forget the 'bluelane' that gave commuters headache during CWG.

But well seriously... may be its really time for good old blueline to go. The life of common man is more special than any argument I give for saving the bluelines. If we can save even one life this way, I would say job well done.

I have my earliest childhood memories of travelling in route no. 770 blueline everyday with my bua, to go to school. I am gonna miss bluelines..