During commute time in Bangalore when people are traveling to their offices, how many people do you see:
1. In a car?
2. On a motor bike?
3. In a bus?
Answer : 1 in a car, 1 on a bike, 75 in a bus.
Here’s a small transportation engineering exercise.
If you count the number of vehicles on the flyover in the picture below, you’ll find that they add up to 150. Assuming the people in these vehicles are all going to or from work, each of the vehicles is carrying 1 person.
That means there are 150 people between the two red lines.
Lets now divide these 150 vehicles into two groups of 75 vehicles each.
If each of these groups of people decide to travel by bus instead of in their cars and two-wheelers, this is what happens (remember, we already decided that the average bus carries 75 people during rush hour).
The congestion magically disappears !
This is no magic. It is proven every day on Bangalore’s roads by BMTC.
BMTC has just 5000 buses, and carries 37 Lakh people every day.
Bangalore’s 32 lakh cars and two-wheelers carry 32 lakh people.
This means that 0.15 per cent of the vehicle population is carrying 50 per cent of the human population.
To carry a person 1 km, a bus:
1. Uses 1/30th the space of a car, and 1/20th the space of a two-wheeler.
2. Emits 1/6th the pollution of a car, and 1/10th that of a two-wheeler
3. Uses 1/15th the quantity of fuel of a car, and 1/3rd that of a two-wheeler
With extensive use of buses this is what can be achieved in Bangalore:
1. Number of vehicles reduced to 1/10th
2. Air pollution 1/6th of what it is now.
3. Traffic density 1/10th of what it is now.
4. Commute time reduced by 1/2
5. Commuting cost reduced to 1/5th.
6. Accidents reduced dramatically.
7. The money that the government spends on road infrastructure will be available for improving water, power, education, medicare and housing.
We don’t have to travel uncomfortably, 75 people in a bus. We can have multiple classes of buses, like BMTC already has.
So where is the problem ? Why can’t we do this?
Let’s hear it from someone who solved the problem in Bogotá, Colombia, which has the same population as Bangalore, in an area twice the size, and had a similar traffic problem.
When Enrique Peñalosa became mayor of Bogotá in 1998, he asked a question that is changing the way people all over the world think about cities: “In Bogotá, where 85 percent of the people do not use cars for their daily transport, is it fair that cars occupy most of the space on the streets?
The city built 70 miles of bicycle routes and closed several streets to cars and converting them into pedestrian malls. Car use was restricted during rush hour, each car banned from the downtown area two days a week, based on the license plate number. The results were dramatic: the average commute time dropped by 21 minutes, and pollution was reduced significantly.
The city had been debating a multi-billion dollar train subway system for decades, but Peñalosa decided to build a rapid transit bus system (BRT) that was far cheaper.
In the words of Peñalosa, who says he succeeded because he focused on improving the lot of people, not their cars. “All over the developing world, resources are used to help the affluent avoid traffic jams rather than mobilising the entire population”.
People ask him why this is not done everywhere, if it is so simple and inexpensive. He says, “I tell them the only issue is a political one. They don’t want to take space from cars and give it to buses, bicyclists, and pedestrians”.
After Peñalosa showed the way, scores of cities the world over have switched to bus systems.
What we in Bangalore need now is our very own Peñalosa. ⊕
The Bogota Transformation : Vision and Political will
Indore Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) : Executive Summary
Presentation ‘Urban Transport in India:Beyond the Nanoand Metro …and Back to the Basics’.by Dr. Madhav Badami, Asst. Prof., School of Urban Planning, McGill Univ., Canada