Mired in the majestic maze

The gateway to Bangalore is a mega traffic disaster thanks to unscientific planning and lack of co-ordination among the stakeholders

Mired in the majestic maze

Hardly. This, despite the recent efforts by the traffic police to bring about a semblance of order and the urban planners’ vision to transform the place into a hitech hub interlinking the Namma Metro, KSRTC, BMTC and the Railways.

Against heavy odds, the traffic police have managed to put some order in place. But that is precariously close to breaking down every time the festival crowd converges there in hordes.

Indiscipline on the roads and motorists’ refusal to abide by rules only add to the chaos. The police often find that their traffic management system takes a severe beating every time a rule is broken. They are left clueless, as all roads leading to the transport hub get gridlocked.

Thousands are stranded, unable to catch their trains and buses on time.

Urban traffic experts blame lack of proper planning, unscientific routings, improper timings, lack of alternative spaces to originate vehicles and lack of awareness among the masses for the chaos.

“It is basically a co-ordination problem,” says Additional Commissioner of Police (traffic & security) M A Saleem. It took years for the Bangalore traffic police to realise the importance of co-ordination among various agencies involved, such as the BMTC, KSRTC, TNSRTC, APSRTC, KSRTC (Kerala), to come to an understanding to ensure better traffic management.

Saleem admits that the traffic police did not play a proactive role in the past.

Another officer attributes it to the problem of demand and supply. “There is less space for more vehicles. All your projects go awry when this is the situation. You should address this problem so that other woes are addressed automatically,” he analyses. According to the transport department statistics, as many as 4,000 buses run by the State SRTCs, around 1,200 buses owned by transport corporations of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, besides 300 buses of private operators, take up the space, especially when there is a series of holidays.

Add to this a large number of private vehicles rushing towards the railway station and bus stand, and the chaos couldn’t get worse. All these vehicles, excluding trains, ferry more than three lakh passengers. The South Western Railways also introduces additional trains or attaches additional bogies to trains to ferry more passengers during the festive season.

“Where is the space for these many vehicles and passengers?” wonder traffic police officials.
On festival rush days, the traffic scenario in and around the Majestic area gets worse from around 5 pm. Normalcy is restored only past midnight. On an average, most buses are delayed by three hours. The worst-affected roads are KG Road, Goods Shed Road, Platform Road, Seshadri Road, Subedar Chattram Road and Krishna Flour Mill Road. The aftermath of the congestion on these roads is felt on most roads in the surrounding areas.

Things have started changing

But lately, things have begun to change slowly, although it is a decongestion work in progress. There was a marked difference during the recent Dasara and Deepavali holiday season, thanks to some initiatives by the traffic police.

Saleem explains: “I decided to use the experience I gained when I was Director, Security and Vigilance, KSRTC, to solve this problem. I knew the problems and shortcomings of the traffic police and the transport department. We conducted a series of extensive meetings with the transport corporations of Karnataka and the neighbouring states and came to an understanding.

We identified alternative areas for the buses to originate from and move in different directions. We banned movement of private vehicles on KG Road. We also imposed restrictions on vehicular parking. All this worked out very well.”

Henceforth, all buses towards Mysore will originate only at the satellite bus stand on Mysore Road, those towards Kolar, Tirupati and other parts of the Andhra Pradesh at NGEF, while those towards Tamil Nadu will start only at the Shantinagar bus stand. The buses of NEKRTC and NWKRTC will start moving from Peenya (where a lot of space is provided for idle parking), towards KSRTC Majestic bus terminus, Subashnagar, only 45 minutes before the scheduled departure.

A traffic policeman has been deployed to ensure this. He will note down the timings and then allow the buses from Peenya. Moreover, the buses are allowed to occupy the platform only for 10 minutes.

“We managed to reduce congestion with these measures and they would be a regular feature in future,” Saleem states.

Drivers’ pathetic tale

Most drivers complain of heavy mental and psychological pressure trying to negotiate the heavy rush. They end up exchanging heated words with their counterparts in other buses and passengers quite often.

“Our experience is beyond description. We are forced to leave the idle parking place early so that we can reach on time and leave Bangalore on time,” says Sangamesh Basannavar, the NEKRTC driver of the Holealur-Bangalore bus.

The biggest problem is to gain entry. To enter the bus stand from Khoday’s Circle, it takes more than 45 minutes. Exit from the bus stand is even more strenuous. Ferrying a huge number of passengers is a tough challenge, he adds.

The tale of BMTC drivers is totally different. They say their higher-ups harass them if they fail to operate the buses as per scheduled timings. The higher-ups immediately issue memos for being late. It takes almost one hour for them to gain entry into the Kempe Gowda bus stand from Shivananda Circle, whereas time allotted reach KBS from Shivananda Circle is just 15 minutes. The top brass fail to understand how drivers can do this amidst so much traffic jam, they question.

Passengers’ woes

This experience of Anil Patil, a native of Bijapur and a professional in Bangalore, sums up the tale of many a passenger.

“I had booked a ticket in a Rajahamsa bus to Bijapur a few months ago during the festive season. The bus was scheduled to leave at 7.30 pm. I got down at Hudson Circle as there was a traffic gridlock, and managed to reach the bus stand on a friend’s motorbike much before the scheduled time.

I searched for the bus, but failed to notice it. Thinking that I had missed the bus, I came out of the bus stand around 8 pm and managed to catch a private bus paying double the fare.

When I enquired the next day, I was shocked to learn that the Rajahamsa bus reached the platform around 9 pm and left the bus stand at 11 pm. I was unaware of the fact that the Rajahamsa bus was struck in a traffic gridlock,” he said.

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