The Atal Sarige buses, meant for the poor, are no longer on the roads.
Story so far: The BMTC’s Atal Sarige buses were introduced in 2009 to provide economically weaker sections with an affordable way to travel. The fares were half the ordinary rates. There were 20 buses across 11 routes before the pandemic. When it launched, there were about two dozen.
- The minimum fare was ₹3 and the maximum, for up to 50km, was ₹15. For comparison, fares in other non-AC buses were between ₹5 and ₹30.
- The buses were hard to miss. They were tri-coloured with the route numbers beginning with ‘AS’. They had fewer seats to accommodate more people. In 2017, the Congress-led government expanded the service for women and students. However, the response was poor.
Revival? BMTC officials say the state government needs to offer support for the service if they are to be expanded. Currently, there are no Atal Sarige buses in use. There’s also the issue of high fuel prices.