Monday, December 04, 2006

Starbus in The City

As a true blue Mumbaikar, I want to try anything that is new in the city. Thus when the BEST launched their new STARBUS, I wanted to get onto it pronto. But, it deluded me for six months as it ran on routes that I never took or never passed through my house, office or kennels. One also could not just jump into it at a signal like other BEST buses as its doors are shut while it is moving. So finally some days ago, I was happy to see a Starbus waiting at the signal outside the Esplanade Court building at Kala Ghoda and as its doors were open, I promptly jumped into it.

At the next stop (opposite the High Court), I heard commuters banging on the door and realized the reason for the doors being open when I got in. The driver had forgotten to shut the door at the earlier stop and thus pressed the button at the bus stop to let the passengers in, only to shut the open door.

The Starbus has two levels and it reminded me of the trailer buses that Bombay had years ago. (Route nos 1, 70, 74) The lower level which is really low almost touches the floor (okay, about one foot higher than the floor) and it can seat 12 people with 3 seats on the side that are foldable and first-timers like me are left wondering how to operate them.

If you are tall, mind your head while climbing the two steps that take you to the higher level. A sign in Marathi, Savdhan, doke aaptel will warn you anyway. The higher level seats 14 people but avoid the last row, as it is terribly hot because of the engine at the back. The bus seats less people than other buses but if you happen to be standing, see that you are holding on dearly to whatever you can get your hands on, as the Starbus is very very unsteady.

Well now for the positives… One big one is that it takes care of the physically challenged. It has a foldable ramp and a place for the wheel chair to be strapped. Another first was that they were playing songs, which I have heard only on public buses and private buses in the South. I though they were playing “In the Summer Time”, only to realize that they were playing a Marathi fusion of Summer Time, They also played some nice old Marathi numbers like ‘he chinche che zaad’, ‘maalyacha malya mandi’, ‘ye jawal ye laju nako’ and ‘aaga ye na, jawal ye na.’ which unfortunately had Jhankar beats.

The bus driver and the conductor were not too happy with the bus. The conductor said that it was used only on short routes and is too shaky. Poor fellow! Must have to put on quite a balancing act. The driver was unhappy that he could not cruise with it through the narrow Jagannath Sunkersett Road in Girgaum as he though it was bulkier than the regular buses.

If you do intend to take a ride on this bus, do read the “In Emergency Instructions for passengers” written there.

1) Press red knob provided near door and open manually.
2) Remove the flap and press handle to open rear door.
3) “Fire extinguishers” near drivers seat at rear end.
4) ‘Break’ rear glass with hammers nearby.
5) Operate “battery cut-off switch’ near driver seat and rear end engine.

So the STARBUS may be suave and foreign looking but the good ole single and double-decker buses are best suited for the hustle and bustle of this city.

1 comment:

Johannes Widmer said...

Hi Abodh!
You remember me from the Madikeri Trekking? I found your blog right now. It shows me that I actually have to visit Mumbai soon. How are you doing?
Greetings from Vellore,
PS: My mobile number has changed - contact me via eMail "ma(z)il(at)jwid(z)mer(dot)de" [omit the (z)]