BMTC has miles to go

BMTC has miles to go

In the absence of alternative modes of transport and buses having to wade through labyrinthine traffic, the Corporation struggles to reach outlying ar

Buses have been the principal mode of transport the world over in cities with more than half a million people. When the population figure crosses the three-million mark, alternative transport such as suburban/mono rail or metro rail become necessary.

But in Bangalore, now brimming with nearly 10 million people, the rapid transit system was introduced quite late. The delay has led to a burgeoning growth of private vehicles and put pressure on bus services in the City.

For the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), providing adequate and efficient bus services has become a challenge. Residents in many areas, especially those in the zones newly added to Bangalore, say the BMTC has failed to  provide the last-mile connectivity.

Many “letters to the editor” Deccan Herald received in recent weeks speak of bus stands located far away, unscientific routes, bus frequency issues and neglect of the City’s fringe areas.

When this newspaper approached traffic experts and urban planners seeking to know how problems related to bus services, especially the last-mile connectivity, could be solved, they came up with some interesting points.

Understanding the City

Urban planner K Narahari said before someone tries to find ways to solve problems affecting bus services, it is important to understand the traffic structure and road connectivity of the City. He said Bangalore had developed in a radial pattern with radial and chord roads, resulting in dense traffic flow on radial roads and the central area.

He pointed that with 25 per cent of the road area appropriated for parking, the BMTC had to operate buses with the existing road infrastructure.

Narahari said the connectivity of BMTC buses was by and large satisfactory within the Outer Ring Road (ORR) areas. Several issues arise once the buses cross the ORR. The shortage of buses for a ‘Greater Bangalore’ is just one issue. More needs to be done to scientifically use the available resources, he said.

More buses won’t help

M N Srihari, advisor to State government on Infrastructure and professor at RV College, Bangalore, says the BMTC management believes an expanded fleet will solve transport problems. “This view is not correct. The width of roads, too many private vehicles, obstructions to vehicle movement on congested roads, many signals and one-way roads are not suitable for movement of more buses. Commuters waste a lot of time to reach their destination and are thus forced to use their own vehicles,” he said.

According to ABIDe Task Force member Ashwin Mahesh, the problem with urban planning is all the planning is done inside out, with the City getting all the attention at the cost of outlying areas. “So, the frequency of buses is quite high closer to the City. But once we cross the ring road, the frequency drops dramatically. If you get off the main road, there are bus stops, but buses are infrequent.

In most cities in the world, bus stops are located in such a way no commuter has to walk more than 500 metres to get to a bus stop. But this is not the case in Bangalore,” he says. Ashwin says the BMTC’s plans have to be data-driven and not ad hoc.

Scientific survey needed

Urban planner and civic analyst Dr A S Kodandapani said a proper survey of passenger concentration and the origin-destination has not been conducted for decades. A detailed trip analysis through trip sheets, which conductors maintain every day, should also be done, he suggested. The exercise should be conducted especially in new Bangalore areas to help understand the need of services and respective frequencies there, he says.

Additional buses for suburbs

K R Sreenivasa, MD, BMTC, says the Corporation will procure additional buses this year for suburban areas. “There was a problem last year, so we were unable to launch new services. We will service areas where there is demand,” he says.

The BMTC had initially introduced over 19 Big Connect feeder service buses running 71 schedules on a trial basis. These buses were introduced to complement the Big 10 buses and to improve the last-mile connectivity in outlying areas.

Sreenivasa said after trial, some routes were discontinued and a few others were altered. Now, BMTC operates 13 Big Connect buses running 50 schedules. Besides, the BMTC officials said, the Corporation was adding around 150 new feeder schedules. “There was no demand at all on some routes and we suffered losses,” he said.

However, services will continue even on routes that do not fetch profit. “Once people get used to it and they know these buses are regular, then the demand will go up,” he said.

He said the Corporation intended to have new schedules in areas which are not serviced adequately even if it means suffering some losses. “We have to keep in mind the rate at which the City is growing. Once the population density in certain areas increases, our revenues too will grow,” he said.

For seamless travel

Projects

*    Signal-free corridors
*    Elevated North-South Corridors between Madivala and Hebbal
*    Eastern connectivity corridor from Vellara Junction to Kundalahalli
*    Elevated roads over stormwater drains. Double Road to National Games Village and Seshadripuram, Rajiv Gandhi Circle to Mysore Road
*  Land acquisition for signal-free corridors and other projects
*    Arterial and sub-arterial     roads in new zones
*    New railway over/under bridges

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