No to flyovers, yes to more buses, suburban rail

No to flyovers, yes to more buses, suburban rail

Is there an alternative to spending thousands of crores on expensive, inefficient elevated corridor projects? Are there other means to decongest Bengaluru’s roads? Yes, there are, plenty of them. Here’s a list compiled by the city’s mobility thinktanks, road-users and ordinary citizens.

Add more buses

The first priority, as articulated by seasoned campaigners for sustainable transport, should be to reduce the private, personal transport vehicles. Take off a few lakh such vehicles and replace them with BMTC buses. 

Today, 6,500 BMTC buses carry half the city traffic. The other half of Bengaluru’s population, 56 lakh to be precise, manages with 50 lakh private cars and two-wheelers! Why not replace them with a public transport mix of BMTC buses, Metro, Commuter Rail, BRTS and aggregated cab / mini bus services?

Less cars, SUVs and two-wheelers will free up road space for more buses and might even accommodate dedicated bus lanes. But make those buses punctual and reliable, integrate their schedules and bus stop locations with other public transport modes, and do better route planning.  

Government officials say elevated roads are required even for public transport. But you cannot have bus stops on flyovers. So, what is the answer?

Barricade bus lanesOnce private vehicles are reduced, build barricaded bus lanes on existing carriage way; increase frequency to 3 minutes on East West and North South corridors so that maximum traffic can move on them. Use articulated buses or trams to boost carrying capacity per trip, all on the surface. 

These barricaded lanes could start with the wider roads such as the Ring Roads and highways such as Bellari, Tumakuru and Airport roads that already have the bandwidth and carry regular commuters.

Suburban rail

A suburban train network is another definite way out to substantially reduce traffic congestion. It costs only a fraction of the Namma Metro and flyover costs and could be operated mostly on the existing rail infrastructure with a few station modifications. 

Suburban trains could also be commissioned to the Airport from Electronic City, and between the IT corridors and the City that currently see huge traffic pile-ups. Sathya Sankaran, a founding member with Citizens for Sustainability (CiFoS), points out that all Indian metros except Bengaluru has this system running.Unless public transport is upgraded, reducing private transport could prove extremely tough. Hefty parking fees and heavy congestion tax to enter inner city areas have proven to be natural disincentives to private transport the world over. 
Re-engineer roads

Vehicular flow could be greatly enhanced if the existing roads are re-engineered to have uniform carriage ways and traffic bottlenecks are removed with proper merging distances. TenderSURE roads have shown a way out. A network of such roads could provide a viable alternative. 

Commuters say they prefer to walk than get stuck in traffic jams if the pavements are in good shape. Better, seamless sidewalks on all roads and cycle tracks on arterial corridors hold the potential to shift huge numbers of vehicles onto footpaths. Elevated corridors will then take the backseat. 

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