I have always enjoyed traveling by public transport. Even when I had my own car, I preferred to use the local trains in Mumbai to commute to work, as opposed to driving my own car. I think I must have been the only person in office who had a car but still traveled by train!
This is my second stint in Bangalore and I must admit that, in my first stint, for over 3 years, I don’t think I took the public bus even once. I had my two-wheeler and used to to get around everywhere. Now, in my second stint, I don’t own a car or two-wheeler, and rely primarily on Uber to get around within the city (and Zoomcar for outstation trips). And when I am traveling by myself, I try to take the bus as much as possible. And, to be completely honest, I found the experience quite pleasant.
I think it’s a shame that most people who can afford not to, do not take the buses in Bangalore. I have found them to be quite clean, fairly reliable, with a good network, and obviously, fairly expensive. And now, with the integration of the bus timetable with Google Maps, it’s even easier to navigate and find the correct bus routes.
What do I like about public transport? I think it’s a great way to really get to observe the places and the people up close, as compared to the bubble of an air-conditioned car. It helps one to stay in touch with the reality of the place we are staying in. Its healthy – one has to walk to and from the bus stop. You get a better view around as you are sitting above the top of most vehicles around you. I don’t feel as claustrophobic when you are stuck in a traffic jam. I also feel less road rage as you do not observe all the nonsense around you. It’s obviously more environmentally friendly and, of course, it’s cheaper!
So, if you are in Mumbai or Bangalore, or indeed any city with a half decent public transport network, give it a shot and see how you feel.