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Monday, July 18, 2016

City Buses around the world-my observations

This is post Number 2000 on my blog.

In each city/country I visit, I try to make the most of public transportation. Public transportation saves lots of money compared to taxi, gives us close experience of local life and usually doesn’t lose big on travel time. In this post, I am giving a view of how public transportation is, in various countries that I had been to. The idea is to identify best practices followed world-wide and understand how things work elsewhere. Public transportation usually involves a network of metros, buses, water taxis, trams etc. I am focusing only on buses in this post.
Tram buses in Lithuania
Generic observations about buses around the world
-    Only in developing countries like India and Srilanka we can find Non-AC buses and a dedicated staff (Conductor) to issue tickets. Most modern countries have automated payments through smartcards and very few countries allow cash payment to the driver
-    Looks like only in India we have reserved seat for women. All other countries I have been to, only have priority seating for senior citizen/pregnant women or handicapped persons.
-    Many countries that allow cash payment to driver do not refund change. So passengers need to either give exact change or forgo the balance. This may seem unfair, but makes life simple for everyone- passengers can opt for smart card and swipe in and swipe out, or board with exact change. No time is lost while driver tries to give refund and no hold up of passengers behind.
-    From what I have experienced, Sweden has the most inconvenient bus system for tourists- tickets can only be bought only from few select outlets (local residents have smart cards) and not on bus or in kiosks
-    Denmark and few European countries have a zone system- ticket price depends on how many zones you wish to cross. Have written in detail about this in an earlier post here
-    Almost in all countries buses have a red button on the pillars- if you need driver to stop the bus, you press that button. Otherwise driver may keep moving if there’s no one boarding at the stop.
-    Most advanced countries have an integrated transport system-one daily pass/access card is valid on all modes of transport (bus, metro, water taxi, tram etc) and an integrated app that tells you how to reach your destination using different modes. This makes it very convenient for visitors. India has a long way to go in this aspect.
-    Most countries have a streamlined flow of passengers- you board the bus through front door- show your pass or tap your card or pay for the ticket and move inside and at your designated stop, get out through middle door.
-    Countries that have tap on and tap off are tricky. If you forget to tap off (or machine doesn’t recognize the tap) you will lose lots of money, if you forget to tap in, you might be fined
-    While most countries have a fixed amount daily pass, Australia has a better system. In Sydney, after you have paid say 15 AUD on a given day, rest of the rides are free. This works best when you are not sure if you will be fully utilizing daily pass value (in fixed price model, if you take just one or two rides, you fail to make use of full value of the daily pass)
-    Sweden and few other countries are actively using buses fueled by Bio Diesel.
-    I find advertising on the bus is used to the max in Singapore (Refer image below)
-    Former Union Minister Ambumani Ramadoss said public transportation is free in Estonia’s capital
Creative Ads on a bus in Singapore
Ticket Related matters

Country
Pay on board?
Tickets Issued on board?
Conductor Available?
Refund Given?
Cost of per km transport
Australia
No
No
No
NA
Reasonable
Chile
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Low
Denmark
No
No
No
NA
Can’t predict
Finland
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Low
Germany
?
?
No
?
?
India
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Low
Lithuania
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Low
Macau
Yes
No
No
No
Low
Malaysia
Yes
No
No
No
Low
Norway
?
?
No
?
High
Singapore
Yes
?
No
No
Reasonable
Srilanka
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Low
Sweden
No
No
No
No
High
Switzerland
?
?
No
?
High

? = I am not sure. Either I am unable to recall this aspect or didn’t get to try it. If you have information on these please share, I will update.
In most cities I bought daily passes, so didn’t have to pay on board or buy individual journey tickets
Technology and convenience

Country
Smart Card?
Smart Card works across other modes?
Daily Pass? *3
Daily Pass valid across other modes?
Apps Available?
Australia
Yes *1 (Mandatory)
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Chile
?
?
?
?
?
Denmark
Yes *2
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Finland
?
?
Yes
Yes
?
Germany
?
?
Yes
Yes
?
India
No
NA
Yes
No
No
Lithuania
No
NA
?
?
?
Macau
Yes
NA
?
NA
No
Malaysia
?
?
?
?
?
Norway
?
?
Yes
?
?
Singapore
Yes
?
Yes
Yes
Yes
Srilanka
No
NA
?
?
?
Sweden
Yes
?
?
?
?
Switzerland
?
?
Yes*4
Yes
Yes
*1: Looks like each Australian city has different card for buses-Melbourne has MyKi, Canberra has MyWay, Sydney has another etc
*2: Smart card in Denmark is issued for permanent residents only. Tourists can buy daily/3day/monthly passes
*3: Few countries like Finland issue passes that are valid for 24/48 hours from first use or time of issue, while other countries for a calendar day (less beneficial). You should be careful not to buy a daily pass at 10PM if it is valid only till midnight.
*4: Switzerland has a 3 day pass valid across all modes, not one day pass.

Facilities

Country
Ladies Seat Reservation?
Dedicated Entry & Exit
AC/Non AC?
Age of buses
Wheelchair / Baby cart friendly?
Australia
No
Yes
AC
New
Yes
Chile
No
?
?
Old
No
Denmark
No
Yes
AC
New
Yes
Finland
No
Yes
AC
New
Yes
Germany
No
Yes
AC
New
Yes
India
Yes
No
Both
Mixed
No
Lithuania
No
Yes
AC
Old
No
Macau
No
Yes
AC
Mixed
Yes
Malaysia
No
Yes
AC
New
Yes
Norway
No
Yes
AC
New
Yes
Singapore
No
Yes
AC
New
Yes
Srilanka
?
No
Both
Old
No
Sweden
No
Yes
AC
New
Yes
Switzerland
No
Yes
AC
New
Yes
Lithuania has what is known as Bus Trams- they have regular bus tyres but are powered by an overhead power line.(first photo in this post)

Additional Facilities

Country
ETA display at bus stand?
AC Bus stand?
Dedicated bus lanes?
Bus to airport?
Kiosks to buy tickets?
Australia
?
No
No
Yes
Yes
Chile
?
No
No
?
?
Denmark
Yes
No
No
Yes
Yes
Finland
?
No
No
Yes
Yes
Germany
Yes
No
No
?
Yes
India
No
No*6
No
Yes
No
Lithuania
No
No
No
Yes
No
Macau
No
No
No
Yes
No
Malaysia
No
No
No
Yes
No
Norway
Yes
No
No
Yes
Yes
Singapore
No
No
No
Yes
No
Srilanka
No
No
No
?
No
Sweden
?
No
No
?
No
Switzerland
?
No
No
?
Yes
*6: Some Indian cities had one or two AC bus stands which were more a publicity stunt than standard solution. Also in India buses are operated by each state, hence rules, facilities etc can differ from state to state.
A red bus in Srilanka
I didn’t have the need/opportunity to try buses in following countries.
     Hong Kong, Thailand, USA, Belgium, Netherlands
Have used metro in most of above cities but not buses. I find Metro systems are relatively easier to understand than bus network

Update: Dhananjaya Moorthy has informed that in Thailand Conductor will be available and will issue a ticket like in India


How is the bus service in your country? Or the countries you have been to? Anything out of ordinary or anything interesting you would like to share? Please comment.

Indian Bloggers 
Disclaimer: All information as experienced by this blogger during his visit to respective countries. Technology, process and rules change over time and it is possible that some of the pointers have have changed. Use your discretion.

Similar: Kochi airport to city- buses and other budget options * Smart folding seats in Srilanka buses * Lockers in Canberra bus terminal * Copenhagen to Berlin by bus * Melbourne to Sydney- Bus vs flight- which is better? * 

14 comments :

The wild said...

When you compare India with other countries ,the first thing to note is some states like UP ,Maharashtra or even Karnataka are perhaps bigger than some of the countries quoted in your blog.

-Every country does become mature and i think India may be slightly lagging behind the curve but it will surely get there.
-To be quoting estonia - a former country in soviet union is quite simply unrealistic ,its a country too small to be compared
-You will need to invest in technology to reap the benefits.If we keep continuing with cheap fares ,then nobody will get anywhere ,perhaps India is now more focussed to feeding its salary driven -most state road transport corporations are reeling to keep stay afloat.Google -Kerala KSRTC mainly because of socialism and lack of investement .Before we make a comparision we first have to understand you need invest and pay for what you get ,only then you will be rewarded with a good public road transport system.straight forward economics ,no freebies will work in long term
-Other way of seeing one or two A/C bus stands ,is that- that is all they can afford to do with their limited funds.Karnataka is the perhaps the best bus transport in terms of both KSRTC and BMTC because they have consistently invested it over the years.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

True. Objective of the post was not to blame Indian city buses, rather to explain how buses work in rest of the world

Thanks for your comment.

The Untourists said...

That's a comprehensive bus review. Wow. We need ,ore public transport in India and I think double decker buses may be a viable solution.

Ami said...

That is a well-written review. I admit that after traveling in the European buses, I was sold on the idea of the red button. However, in retrospect, once I was back home, I realised there are higher chances of it being misused in India (talking only of volvos)

D.Nambiar said...

Wow! that's quite a study.
Great observations, Shrinidhi. It was interesting to read, too.

Congratulations on the 2000th. That's quite a milestone. :)

Dhananjay Murthy said...

Too exhaustive information, to add more as you have asked to update

Singapore
1. Smart card can be accessed in Metro and bus. In metro you can buy ticket and can be used 3 times later it will be valid. If you buy a smart card can be top up n number of times you get discount of 10% in the value of the ticket.
2.In Bus the smart card can be used also you can pay cash to driver but no change.

Thailand:
1.For long distance(from one city to another city) no conductor will be available, tickets will be issued in bus stand with specific counters to specific cities, In bangkok mochit bus stand (north), southern bus terminal (south) got more than 50 ticket counters specific to cities.
2 In local bus conductor will issue the tickets, even in chao phraya river boat service conductor will issue the tickets in the boats , it is also major transportation in bangkok. Only between Tha Tien to Vat arun it is crossing the river you need to buy in the platform.


In Bangalore :
In metro there is no reservation for elders,handicaped, pregant &ladies with small kids seats, but a picture displayed on the wall for priorities to be given .

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@DN- Thanks

@Ami- yes, we are good at abusing things

@The Untourists- many underpasses and flyovers are not tall enough to let a double decker pass, so there could be issues

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Dhananjaya Moorthy- Thanks for your inputs

Nisha said...

Once again, a very detailed post. :)

I would like to point out about Macau city buses which I took last year and remember it.

There was bus conductor, ticket was given on board and he gave us change as well. Just like India. :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Nisha- Last month we took bus at least 6-8 times- there was no conductor and no refund- either things have improved over past one year or I missed some type of buses

Rashmi Rao said...

Wow; what a detailed review and post:)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Rashmi

Shailesh Jethva said...

First of all, congratulations on post no. 2000. I love bus travelling a lot. Especially sitting on the window seat and gazing outside.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Shailesh

@Dhananjay- updated