Ergonomics: We need buses in India that are friendly to humans

This set of pictures from Mercedes Benz shows bus design that is not hostile to people. This is important from a universal design point of view, and more so in a world with a growing proportion of elderly people.

In India, the Government of India has the National Bus Code, AIS 052 which puts numbers and specifications. This specifies the floor height, and the features of buses to be used in city operations.

Curiously, the Centre allowed the code to violated even five years ago, when the first set of buses funded through JNNURM funds was sanctioned. The bus manufacturers along with the operators got the government to exempt them from the code, and they built the usual kind with floor heights of 1100 mm, as against 400 to 900 mm ordered by the government. Read the specifications here. Now that the Narendra Modi government talks of ‘smart cities,’ will it make the code law and ensure that no operator is able to flout it?

The new Mercedes Benz with a low floor. Photo: Mercedes Benz.

The new Mercedes Benz with a low floor. Photo: Mercedes Benz.

The interior of the Mercedes Bus looks like this. Several Indian operators have been running ‘bendy’ or articulated buses including Metropolitan Transport Corporation in Chennai.

Interior of the Mercedes Benz articulated bus, with clean passenger movement areas, stanchions and comfortable seats. Photo: Mercedes Benz

Interior of the Mercedes Benz articulated bus, with clean passenger movement areas, stanchions and comfortable seats. Photo: Mercedes Benz

By contrast, the existing Indian stock of buses looks like this:

Chennai MTC bus near Simpson, Anna Salai

A Metropolitan Transport Corporation bus in Chennai, India. It has a three-step climb and a floor height well above that prescribed by the National Bus Code. There are even non-working, poorly designed doors for disabled commuters. The doors are not really meant for use, since the bus cannot “kneel” or provide a ramp. Photo: G. Ananthakrishnan

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