Revamping bus services will go a long way

If the government were to test the public pulse on bringing in more trains into the City, what would be heard are numerous questions, concern for environment and exasperation at the existing, close-to-completion and yet-far-from-it projects.

That does not mean people in Bangalore are not seeking additional infrastructure to the existing system of transport. But “what kind of additional transport” is the first question they ask.

There is a large section of people that believes that if the existing BMTC services are tweaked by adding a few buses and changing the routes of a few existing services, the traffic problem would be solved. The Namma Metro, which is still in progress, has resulted in major traffic jams at many junctions. The public have doubts about how practical more rail tracks on our roads would be, with the little space left after accommodating Metro.

Green activists are worried that extra tracks will only mean more trees disappear. Whether you build it above the ground, or go for an underground rail system, roads will be affected and a good amount of trees will be cut. “If the government is planning to infuse new systems of transport, they should first clarify the repercussions. Before making a choice, people need to know what it would cost the City,” says Aishwarya Maddineni, a Green Peace activist.

Maddineni belongs to a section that feels BMTC buses could be made more viable. “If one has to go from Jayanagar to Richmond Circle, the bus goes in a roundabout way, doubling the distance, which makes the journey tiring. A better planning of routes would resolve the crisis without bringing in extra transport choking the already narrow roads,” she adds.

There has to be a combination of commuter rails and buses, opines Vinay Sreenivasa of Hasiru Usiru team. While connecting the City to nearby industrial areas with commuter rails is a good idea, within the City, buses should made use of. The Metro project phase I will cater for about eight lakh population and phase II will serve another eight lakh. Presenting a huge contrast of numbers, the BMTC caters for a large chunk of 45 lakh people, he points out, emphasising the potential of public bus service system.

Critiques also say the Light Rail Transit (LRT) system would be an expensive choice.
Making a similar observation is Sudheera H S, an activist and member of Gubbi Labs. He says more trains mean a large dent on finances. “The cost per 1 km of Metro is Rs 150 crore. Building an underpass or a flyover would cost about Rs 15 crore.

On the contrary, bus rapid transit would cost Rs 15 crore per km, making it a viable option,” he observes.
The Metro appears to be a public transport, but in reality it caters for just a small section of people. Public transport is no doubt important, but the crucial point is “to whom it is being built”, adds Sudheera.

While those who have done a study on the transport system in the City favour altering the existing system to suit the needs of the public, even daily commuters are not too sure about the idea of more trains around them.

Poojana, an HR person in a private company in the City, has given up travelling by buses as she finds it a nightmare. “Autos are no better, but it seems a better option compared to surviving a crowded bus in the peak hour,” she says.

At the outset, trains do seem like the much-needed relief for Bangalore traffic. However, earlier experience has shown that train services such as the Metro, end up catering only for a section of the crowd. “It is useful only for people residing in certain areas of the City. I was disappointed with the choice of stations for Metro,” she says.

Poojana believes that more trains should be brought in, if only they connect all parts of the City. Otherwise, the existing bus system could be expanded.

There is no doubt people in Bangalore are seeking a way out of choked roads, traffic jams and long hours of travel to work and back home. They welcome additional infrastructure and appreciate investments in the direction. More importantly, they have a word of caution for the government: Are we making investments in the right place?

If the government is planning to introduce new systems of transport, it should first clarify the repercussions. Before making a choice, people need to know what more trains would cost the City.

Aishwarya Maddineni, activist, Green Peace

The Metro project phase 1 will cater for about eight lakh people and phase II will serve another eight lakh. Presenting a huge contrast of numbers, the BMTC caters for a large chunk of 45 lakh people, making it more viable.

Vinay Sreenivasa, activist, Hasiru Usiru


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