Commuters okay with BPL but seek better planning

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The Bus Priority Lane (BPL) concept with a clear edge in favour of public transport has elicited mixed responses from the public, particularly the office-goers. Here’s a cross-section of commuters sharing their views.

Nagaveni, who works in Accenture and rides a scooter, notes that the BPL is good for those travelling by bus. “However, it causes inconvenience to two-wheeler riders. It also poses a problem for those who hail a cab as the cabs need to arrive on the left lane to enter the service lane to pick up or drop passengers,” she notes.

Amazon employee, Anand agrees. A two-wheeler rider himself, he says a separate lane helps buses travel faster. “But at the same time, it causes problems for motorcyclists as they are accustomed to riding on the left side of the road, especially those who are slow,” he adds.

Priority One: Public transport

But cab driver Dinesh Kumar has a different opinion. He says, “This measure will benefit commuters who travel via bus regularly as they will be able to save time. I don’t think it causes any problems for cab drivers, as we pick people from the inner lanes and service lanes.”

Pooja, who works in a BPO firm and commutes by bus, has this to say: “I think it is a great initiative but it has not improved the situation. The time taken to travel has reduced but it is marginal. This is because other vehicles, particularly two-wheelers, enter the priority lane.”

Nimesh Shiva, a Dell employee, says he was not aware of the bus priority lane. “It may be the case with other citizens too. If people do not know about the project how will they follow it? The Government should initiate awareness programmes. Nevertheless, it is a reasonable measure to control traffic and help the bus commuters to reach their destinations faster.”

For Shenbagam, who is in the city from New Delhi, observes, “It will take time for drivers to get accustomed to this new system, especially for those who are used to driving in the left lane.”

The BPL system was introduced on November 15 to reduce congestion and travel time for bus commuters along the Outer Ring Road (ORR) between KR Puram and Silk Board Junction. The left lane is designated for BMTC buses and other vehicles are prohibited from entering the lane. The lane is demarcated by a continuous yellow line.

Vehicles owners who violate this rule are fined Rs 500 for the first offence and Rs 1,000 for subsequent offences. But despite the penalty, private vehicles, two-wheelers in particular are often seen entering the lane frequently without any fear.

Mobility activists point out that buses serve the majority of travelling Bengalureans. “Buses also serve all demographics of commuters, including daily wagers, security guards, vendors, students, and IT employees. Prioritising a lane for the bus ensures a more equitable use of road space, which is a common, public resource to all, regardless of economic strata,” says an activist.

Cars and motorcyclists appropriating all the space starves other passengers unfairly. “We need more bus lanes in all major road corridors.”

Nadira Begum, a teacher who drives a car feels the BPL is a thoughtful initiative. “Commuters who travel by bus might reach their destinations faster.”

However, she adds, during rush hours it is very difficult for cars and two-wheelers to follow the rule of not entering the priority lane. Besides, awareness is low. “Some of them might enter the lane by mistake and end up paying the fine. The government should focus more on awareness.”

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