Urban islands of inaccessibility

Urban islands of inaccessibility

Spread across the city’s vast expanse are several islands of inaccessibility. Connected yes, by pathetic road networks, but served poorly by public transport.

Here’s a closer look at these areas and roads ignored by public transport services, some of which are within the city’s core. Suffering daily, commuter were only eager to share their problems. 

Take for instance, the road from BEL Circle in Yelahanka New Town to Hebbal. Rarely does one sight a BMTC bus on this route, points out Chotan Vishvakarma, a student of Sambram College, MS Palya, Yelahanka. “We see mostly autorickshaws and private buses here. The drivers charge whatever fare they want,” he complains.

He has to depend on the lone bus that ferried people to other areas in the city. “This area is in the outskirts of town and is somewhat neglected, only one bus - Route No. 266, which comes and goes from Hessarghatta makes a stop here. The most annoying thing is to endure the drunkards who frequent this bus.”

But there is no alternative. Although the Yeshwantpur bus station is only two to three kilometers away, the autorickshaw drivers make merry. “The trip costs only Rs 40 to Rs 50. Still, the autowallahs here regularly charge Rs 200,” says a resident of MS Palya.  

The same is true of KR Puram, Mara­thahalli and other localities in the newly added BBMP areas. Annasandrapalya, for instance, is less than two kilometers from the Old Airport road. But to find an autorickshaw driver who will take you there for less than Rs 40 is a tough task. Poorly served by BMTC buses -- the roads are too narrow --, the areas have reside­nts walking all the way to the main road.

Yet, this issue is not confined to the outlying areas alone. There are any number of pockets right in the heart of the city that face similar situations.

One needs to get to Tavarekere, barely two kilometers from Forum Mall, to see the problem firsthand. Due to infrequent BMTC bus trips to this area, people look out for autorickshaws. “Autos too are available only at one end of the road. I work in a company in Jayanagar and have to walk till BTM layout bus stop to get a bus or an autorickshaw,” says Mohsin Hussain, a resident of Tavarekere.

Not too far from the city centre is this stretch off Old Madras road. This road from Baiyappanahalli to Banaswadi and Kammanahalli has a ubiquitous presence of autorickshaws at both ends, but too few buses. “One has to wait for as long as half an hour to 45 minutes to get a bus along this way.  What’s more, they stop plying by 8 pm,” laments Jayashree S, who lives in the area. “In such a situation, the only choice are the autowallahs who serve but fleece us.”

Infrastructure development has ironically triggered last mile connectivity problems in many areas. Three years back, the Hennur Depo bus stop was teeming with  commuters as many buses from Bagalur, Kothanur and surrounding areas used to ferry the passengers to major bus terminals. But since the construction of a flyover started there, people are faced with chaos and confusion.

Seema Nayak, a frequent commuter and a resident of Hennur, says: "I used to come to Hennur Depo bus stop earlier. Even a month ago, the buses used to come although bearing all that dust and grime, but now the route has been diverted. The bus stop has been shifted to the parallel Hennur Main road. It is time consuming to walk up till there, especially when we are in hurry and struck in important meetings at office."
 
Then, there are places where roads are good enough and no infra projects are taking place, and yet there is no bus connectivity. Residents are forced to walk, or take out their personal vehicles and congest the already bad trafffic. HBR Layout residents staying in 3rd Block have no option but to shell out the extra money and take an autorickshaw to reach Kammanahalli, Kalyan Nagar and other surrounding areas. 

"To reach these places, either I have to take an auto or walk for 15 minutes to reach a bus stop nestled at Outer Ring Road near Nagavara. Similarly, while returning from office, I need to take an auto or walk down from Kammanahalli signal as the bus stops only there. I need to walk at least a kilometre to reach my house,” says Sujith M, a resident.

Thurahalli village near Uttarahalli is another area, still decades behind in bus connectivity. The three bus stops in the area are at least a kilometre away from the village. People from poor and lower-middle classes have no choice but to walk up to the bus stops. Autorickshaws too are hardly visible.

Uttarahalli corporator, Ramesh Raju, blames the narrow roads for lack of bus service. He says, “I had called the BMTC officers to start the bus services in the village but they refused as the roads are very narrow. We are working on some alternatives but that is not materialising.”

Twenty-five year-old Suresh is always in a hurry. He jokes that BMTC has taught him the value of every minute. “There is no guarantee the bus will come. The timings are very irregular. Earlier there was a bus every half hour between 8 and 11 in the morning, but now even that is not a surety.” He is one of the many residents of Devegere -- located two kilometres from the nearest functioning bus-stop of Nallakhamba. If the bus at Devegere decides to not ply that day, residents have to walk almost six kilometers to Kumbalgodu, located on Mysore road.


Residents here say the most who suffer are school children and women. “It is very difficult for women,” says Shanti. “There are no street-lights and to walk such a long distance in dark is very scary.” “It is especially difficult for school children in the morning. They have to walk for 20 minutes to the Nallakamba bus-stop,” laments Leela, a mother of two.

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