Sometimes in the West we look at graffiti coated buses that tour through our cities and towns and cannot help but cringe at their neglected or dilapidated state, and think that there isn’t any scenario worse than this. The reality is that there are plenty of worse scenarios.
Upon first seeing these buses, one cannot help but stare in awe at the horrifying and sometimes dangerous state they’re in. The question that is immediately presented is can there be any worse examples of public transport?
The reality is that there are many places that have buses uglier than these, places that don’t follow the western standard when it comes to public transport.
An ugly Bus with a Splash of Tanzania
If one should ever have to experience public transport in Tanzania, one should prepare oneself for an experience unlike anything that their imagination could create. No one is definitely not playing mobile casino on the bus while going to work. In a place where nature claims land back faster than the human population can exploit it, most roads are dirt roads and smart phones are nowhere to be seen. The buses that drive on them are very commonly minivans that attempt to take on the role of public transport, and are well past their sell-by date. The fact that some of these vehicles refuse to break down is a compliment to the engineers’ design of a resilient vehicle, as the roads here will test the vehicle beyond the limits of what would be normally acceptable.
The reason that most buses here are minivans is that if the vehicle is too heavy, it will probably sink into or skid overtop the clay that sometimes gets washed into the dirt roads by the heavy rainfall. This leads to the drivers attempting to pack more people into the bus to try and compensate for fuel economy, so that they may end up with an acceptable profit.
Disaster in Delhi
While Africa might scare us with its dangerous roads that resemble an off-roader’s heaven, Delhi is a scary challenge, with its vast volumes of people and not enough buses to accommodate them.
Now, while many of us would simply pout or get annoyed and just wait for the next bus, in Delhi this is not an option. People will simply climb onto the bus’ roof or even hang on to the side of the vehicle for the duration of the journey. It is very clear that the people who do this don’t quite care how they get to their destination as long as they arrive; safety is clearly an almost impossible option. After the initial surprise of seeing these buses beyond the acceptable definition of overcrowded, it is easy to begin to wonder how the actual vehicle can sustain such excessive weight. It is nice to know that should any problem occur with the bus, such as being unable to climb up a hill due to the weight, many of the passengers on its roof and on its side are only too happy to get off and push the bus until it can move forward under its own steam.