A few months after the Wall Street Journal’s shocking look at the state of train commuting around Mumbai, Saturday’s Times offered a peek at the equally harrowing game of bus commuting in New Delhi. The story’s about a crackdown on “killer buses,” and they’re not speaking metaphorically. The privately-owned Blueline buses took their 61st and 62nd victims last week; the week before, an 11-year-old taking his dog to the vet was run over and killed.
Bus commuters in the area have two options: Wait several hours in 100 degree heat to be squeezed onto a state-run bus that’s so jammed it makes Das Boot look like the Pacific Princess, or try your luck with a Blueline, which may or may not run you over (Blueline busdrivers are compelled to drive very, very fast to pick up as many riders in as short an amount of time as possible.)
Writes the Times, “In the evening rush hour on Wednesday, passengers were so desperate to get home that some perched on the rear bumpers of the buses, gripping the window panels desperately. That evening, three people were reported seriously injured after falling from the doorways of overflowing buses into the rush-hour traffic.”
While India has long been free from British rule, it appears the British sense of stoicism still exists. The article continues: “Archana Hans said she was happy to wait longer for a state-run bus, if it meant that the government was finally cracking down on the Bluelines. “My daughter was hurt last year when the Blueline she was boarding moved off before she was safely inside,” she said. “She wasn’t seriously injured, but even so she’s had about 10 visits to the doctor to treat damage to her spine.”
Nope, not a serious injury–just 10 spinal treatments.
Fortunately, Delhi’s chief minister, Sheila Dikshit, is on the case.