In an effort to popularise a sightseeing bus service called the Bangalore Round Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) that was introduced for tourists, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has proposed taking these buses to the doorsteps of lodges and hotels in the city over the next fortnight.
The HOHO buses at present pick up passengers from 8.30 am from key points in the city and drop them off at the same point uptil 10 pm. With the uptake of the service being sluggish the BMTC is now accumulating a database of tour-operators and travel desks at hotels across the city to build a steady passenger flow for the HOHO service.
Currently seven Volvo luxury buses are operating within the city as part of the HOHO service. Each bus has a capacity of 42 passengers and are manned by two BMTC crew members. Despite all efforts to popularise the HOHO service occupancy in these seven buses is an average of 22 passengers per day.
The HOHO service at present is able to recover only 30 percent of its operational cost (Rs. 27,000 on weekdays and Rs. 50,000 on the weekends) from passenger tickets.
“The poor passenger footfall is affecting both BMTC and private players as well. Since we are in the lean travel season we are quickly making changes by taking our services to tourist convenience spots and encouraging them to travel with us,” the director (information technology) at BMTC, Kumar Pushkar said.
The BMTC has invested in the soft skills training of select staff with over 10 years of experience for the HOHO service. Private tutors were brought in to train bus crew to be tour guides as well. The tour pass on the HOHO service is priced at a flat rate of Rs. 250 per adult and Rs 150 per child.
Despite costing more than similar services provided by private players and the state bus corporation the Bangalore bus corporation has been banking on its USP of allowing tourists to stay as long as they want at any of the destinations to win over tourists.
“Passengers need not stay on the same bus the whole because every half an hour another HOHO bus will be at their service. The tourist pass can even be used in other BMTC buses,” BMTC’s Pushkar said. The tourist locations that the HOHO buses serve include Tipu Sultan’s Palace, Bull Temple, Gavigangadhareshwara Temple, Lalbagh Gardens, Freedom Park, Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium, Vidhana Soudha/ Karnataka High Court/ Cubbon Park, Visvesvarya Museum/ Venkatappa Art Gallery/ Bal Bhavan/ UB City, MG Road Metro Station, Garuda Mall, Ulsoor Gurudwara, Ulsoor Lake, Commercial Street, St Mary’s Basilica Church, Fun World/ Snow City, Lumbini Gardens/Nagavara Lake, Iskcon Temple, Orion Mall, Sankey Tank and Mantri Square.