Sunday, May 19, 2024
HomekarnatakaIt works but can be better: Users of bus tracking app

It works but can be better: Users of bus tracking app

Users of the month-old Namma BMTC app find its live bus-tracking feature useful, and would like the transport body to fix the teething troubles to strengthen the tracking system.

The BMTC operates about 6,500 buses and the app tracks about 4,200 currently.

How it works

Buses marked in green on the app can be tracked in real time. The estimated arrival time (ETA) of buses marked orange is not up to the minute. Red means the buses are not fitted with tracking devices and their schedule is pre-calculated.

On the app, commuters get information about arrivals and departures, bus stops, and routes. They can also track buses by their vehicle number. The bilingual app (Kannada and English) also features an SOS button and an option to connect with the BMTC helpline.

IT professionals Yathish Kumar S and Rahul S, both regular bus commuters, have found the ETA 95% accurate with a maximum discrepancy of 2-3 minutes.

Reality check

When Metrolife searched for buses on the M G Road-Shivajinagar route on Wednesday, the app provided three results for the 6 pm slot. All the buses arrived on the dot.

Talking about his experience, Rahul, an Uttarahalli resident, says, “Earlier, waiting for the bus was like shooting in the dark. Now, I look up the ETA and approximate journey time and decide if I should use the bus or some other mode of public transport.”

Yathish and Rahul are part of Friends of BMTC, a Telegram group that shares information about buses. The group has been using the app and giving feedback to the app’s backend team since it was opened for beta-testing in March.

Rahul finds two recent updates particularly useful. “One, the separate tab to look up buses and bus stops for the Bengaluru airport. It is called ‘KIA’. Two, the journey time from the source to the destination,” he says.

Public transport enthusiast Lalithamba B V loves that Vayu Vajra buses to the airport can be tracked. “In the public interest, BMTC should release an awareness video about how to use the app,” she says.

Tracking disrupted

According to Yathish, the app was working almost smoothly until one day tracking for hundreds of BS6 buses stopped reflecting on the app. “For about two days, the server was down. Then, we could not track BS6 buses. Subsequently, the count of buses being tracked came down from about 5,000 to 4,000,” recalls Yathish.Pointing out another flaw,he says updates about replacement buses are often missing.

The Friends of BMTC group says real-time tracking is necessary to drive up the adoption of buses among public. “Currently, tracking suffers because of network failure and faulty GPS systems. Or, some buses haven’t been fitted with tracking devices as they are nearing the end of their life,” says Yathish, who lives in Chandapura.

Lalithamba concurs on the need to strengthen live tracking of all buses. The HSR Layout resident says, “We have two or three feeder buses for our area. A few minutes ago, I saw one in my area. Now, that doesn’t show up on the app. What is the explanation?”

This journalist had a similar experience on Wednesday as she waited to board a bus at Shivajinagar. After a delay of 15 minutes, a bus disappeared from the suggestion list.

Where’s the stop?

Communications associate Vikas Gotla has been facing a strange problem. He says, “The app says there are no trips available at my bus stop (Heritage Estate Rajankunte) when in fact I board a bus from there daily. So I look at the ETA of my bus at the previous bus stop and plan my travel accordingly. I have reported the problem but I see no change.”

Among other shortcomings, Vikas says the number of buses equipped with the live tracking feature dips on the weekend, and sometimes, ETA of even these buses is not accurate. He also wants tracking of all buses plying in the late hours “because that is when the frequency is lower”.

BMTC did not respond to questions about the commuters’ remarks cited in this story.

Get it here

The free Namma BMTC app can be downloaded on the App Store and Google Play Store.

(Published 27 October 2023, 01:18 IST)

- Advertisment -

Most Popular