The Bus Day on Wednesday saw chief minister BS Yeddyurappa riding to Attibele in a BMTC Volvo along with home minister R Ashoka, their bodyguards, BMTC officials and some councillors.
The VIP ride was not only a value addition to public transport but also a show of political allegiance to the system.
Ramesh M, driver of the bus, was thrilled as he had the honour of taking chief minister from his official residence on Race Course Road to Attibele. Several security checks were made for the high profile commuters before they boarded the bus.
For the chief minister, it was literally a ride down the memory lane.
Recalling the days when he used to travel from Shikaripur to Shimoga, he said: “I still remember those initial days of my political career when I used to travel by those red buses during political campaigns.”
It was no free ride for the ministers. Both Yeddyurappa and Ashoka bought tickets worth Rs60 to Attibele. The bus carried media persons and a few others who too paid for their rides.
“Public transport is always affordable and safer. Now accidents have also come down to a great extent. I believe Karnataka has gone way ahead in terms of public transport facilities. We are now trying to enforce bio-fuel in a big way,” the chief minister said.
Ashoka said the state transport will receive an international award for its quality at a function to be held in Dubai during the middle of this month. “We have the best of bus services in the country. BMTC’s Bus Day campaign has been such a hit that there is an additional ridership of eight lakh during the Bus Day,” he said.
Here, the chief minister chipped in by saying that BJP national leader Nitin Gadkari has asked all BJP-ruled states to go for bio-fuel.
“We will enforce it soon,” Ashoka added. “We are planning to mix 7.7% of ethanol with diesel, but the central government is looking into our proposal of making it 30% ethanol with diesel.”
With elections just days away in Tamil Nadu, the ministers had plans to go to Hosur to campaign for their party candidate. So they alighted from the bus and drove off to Hosur in their personal vehicles.
The day also saw actors Tara, Yash, Cheeranjeevi Sarja and Ajith riding another Volvo in which ordinary citizens too joined them. The stars said the whole exercise was to promote public transport. A third Volvo rolled out from KSCA grounds to Jayanagar 4th Block carrying veteran cricketers Sunil Joshi and GR Vishwanath. There was a mad rush of movie and cricket fans to get into these buses.
But amid this glamourous show, Bus Day caused inconvenience to ordinary commuters.
“I was stuck in a bus which was entering the Majestic Bus station around 10.30 am. I noticed that many other buses were stuck. Then came the news that some film actors were boarding a bus. The rush of press photographers and fans added to the mess. I was in a hurry and became impatient,” said Akanksha Dhillon, a college student.