Simpler solutions…

BMTC raised fares of Volvo tickets and passes sometime around mid-Feb. Usually they clear out the older stock of bus passes before the ones with the newer rates start appearing the next month or so. So on Feb 27th I got my pass from the conductor paying Rs. 1800 for what used to cost Rs. 1650. The pass also said Rs. 1650 and for a second I was wondering if the conductor had conned me. But no one else who bought monthly passes was complaining so I let it be.

Two days later March 1st came along and the morning commute was nice and pleasant with its BTM layout crawl. The evening though, the conductor took a deeper look at my pass and said that the pass says Rs. 1650 while the rates have been changed. So began an argument with me saying that I did pay 1800 while I only got this. He did ask the perfectly valid question as to why I accepted a pass which says 1650 and should’ve asked the conductor about it. Turns out March’s passes would have a sticker on top which says “Revised to Rs. 1800” and a signature below. After much arguing, he noted down my pass number, called up his depot and found it valid. He asked me to get down at Kamakya and get a sticker pasted there.

Kamakya came, I went to the depot and described the strange problem. “Which conductor was it?” they asked. “The lambu guy” I said – well he was close to 6’4” or 6’5”. “He’s from another depot” one guy said. OK? Technically one organization you’d presume? But there was a simpler solution – “Ask him in the bus tomorrow, he’s in the same one that leaves at 7:20 AM from the start”. Sounds cool, except that ‘tomorrow’ was a Saturday and I wasn’t keen on waiting at a bus stop that morning for a sticker!

I figured that he’s the conductor on Monday mornings too. (AM freakishly disciplined about the bus I take. So days I commute am at the bus stop at 7:25 AM waiting for this bus to arrive. It takes 5-10 minutes to get from start to my stop.) So Monday morning came and came along the conductor. At first there was denial – “I did not issue this pass”. Then there was some validation with some sheet with the pass number – “Why didn’t you ask then itself?”. Then there were solutions – “Give this pass to me when getting down and take it back on Wednesday.” and the look I gave him got this out “Or can you come to the depot at 11:30 AM or so today?” to finally “Leave the pass with me when getting down. I’ll give you my number. Come by the same stop around 11:45 AM and I’ll give you the pass with a sticker.” I resigned myself to that and the rest of the journey went along quietly.

But then, as they say, you’ll never know what’s possible until you ask. So just before getting down I asked. “Can I just take a printout of the sticker and stick it myself?”. “You can do that?” he asked. “Yes, just let me take a pic of the actual sticker.” He gave me the roll of passes to take a picture!

Back in office, I looked it up, decided on the font, (it was the basic “Times New Roman”), sizes, tried them out on multiple text boxes and printed it out, and chose the one most identical. Did a signature as in the photo, took a photocopy to match the actual one and stuck it.

The main presumption was that, every month they need to look up the notch and whether it is on the right month. This month, the sticker would be the distinguisher for quick looks. Has sticker? March pass only. So having a white sheet stuck would get through around 99% of conductors. No one would do a signature or paper material analysis. Not a soul has given it a second look yet.


Not for nothing is Occam’s Razor revered!


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