On an average, people spend an hour and a half in traffic in the metropolitan cities of India and this is especially true of Bengaluru, recent research shows. Sometimes, you have epiphanies, and sometimes some life altering decisions are taken during the many hours we spend waiting for the light to turn green. Lifetimes seem to pass us by and sometimes entire Game of Thrones episodes too.
After having finished my Kuwait sojourn, like most people I took the usual trajectory and travelled to India for college. I, however, have the relative comfort of staying with family and eating home food. But this luxury does not extend to my everyday travel. Living on the outskirts of the bustling city of Bengaluru, I must travel almost 40 km to and from college. This has obviously jerked me out of my complacency and made me realize the importance of an efficient public transportation system.
Like the public transport buses operated by Kuwait’s Citybus, KGL or the government-run KPTC, Bengaluru has the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses which connect the city well. This is supplemented by the timely metro trains that run every five to 10 minutes from major terminals across the city.
Travelling to school, in Kuwait was no trouble because it was only a five-minute walk from my house. Having lived in Salmiya for almost 17 years, everything was within reach. Be it school, malls, restaurants or parks; all just a stone’s throw away.
But in Bengaluru, staying on the outskirts of the city makes it slightly cumbersome to get around the city with the heavy traffic. Online transportation network apps like Uber and Ola have reinvented the commute scene in India. But it is the strong presence of the public transport that is the core of the city.
Kuwait could also benefit from effective metro train system. Buses and taxis provide a wide network of coverage, but they lack the convenience of a metro. Buses from Kuwait City to almost all other places have more frequent buses than routes via Shuwaikh to Salmiya. In general, there’s excellent connectivity. Unlike in India, in Kuwait, one person does the job of both driver and conductor.
However, the inclement weather in Kuwait makes it difficult to access the public bus stops. There are times when buses don’t stop at certain bus stops and people have to wait for longer under the scorching sun. Kuwait roads are not devoid of traffic congestion, which could be nerve-wracking and sometimes may go up to several hours.
It was only after coming back to Kuwait, after having lived in India, and travelling long distance that I have become aware of these differences and some similarities in the transportation systems in both countries, but still unsure as to who does a better job. Perhaps, I might have to travel an eternity to figure that out.
By Shreya Sajeev