Transport is the only development sector that worsens as incomes rise. While sanitation, health, education and employment tend to improve through economic development, traffic congestion tends to worsen as pro-growth forces tend to demand and influence policies.
Transport is not a technical problem,
It is not an infrastructure problem,
It is not even a financial problem,
Most often, it is a political problem.
The proponents for elevated freeways planned to be built cutting across the city claim many benefits, but the theory behind these has gaping loopholes. Let me analyse them one by one, objectively.
City has just 1,500 km of bus-worthy arterial /sub-arterial road network that cannot be widened
This assumption is true, but it raises questions that need to be asked:
- Will a mere 95km of elevated roads speed up buses on 1500km of buses on arterial /sub-arterial roads?
- How will gridlocks be removed on the remaining 1405 km (94%) of “bus-worthy” roads?
- How can dedicated bus lanes be provided on these 1405 km of bus routes, even assuming its possible to provide them below elevated routes?
There are no other viable long-term alternatives. Mass rail transits (Metro phases 3 and 4) and suburban rail will have carrying capacity of only 40-50 lakhs people per day totally by 2030;
This is entirely wrong and an uninformed premise. Metro ridership projections from its DPR estimates are as follows:
- Phase 1: 16.10 lakhs (33 km, no data on 9.3km phase 1 extension);
- Phase 2: 18.17 lakhs (Extensions of the lines in Phase-1);
- Phase 2: 04.55 lakhs (RV Road-Bommasandra line);
- Phase 2: 05.58 lakhs (Gottigere-Nagawara line;
- Phase 2A: 04.59 lakhs (KR Puram-Silkboard line);
- Phase 2B: 01.50 lakhs (Nagawara-Airport via Yelahanka line).
Total: 50.49 lakhs (for length: 42.3+72.5+17.0+29.0 = 160.8km).
There is no data is available on Phase 3 that is likely to add about 100km more.
Going by average projected capacities as above, per km capacity is on average about 31,400 per day. The corresponding figure with actual ridership-per-km of Hong Kong metro is 27,712 (in 2017). There are systems with far higher ridership-per-km numbers (Tokyo, Cairo, Budapest, Sao paulo, Mumbai metro etc).
Assuming BMRC adds 100km in Phase 3, metro’s capacity would rise by about 31,400 x 100 = 31.4 lakhs, making it a total of about 82 lakhs.
Assuming just 70% capacity utilisation, ridership would be close to 57.4 lakhs. In addition, suburban rail may cater to about 9 lakhs (could be higher if developed well and frequencies increased, last mile accesses are sorted out etc). Thus, rail systems can cater to about 66.4 lakhs at the end of phase 3 at just 70% utilisation (Metro’s phase-4 hasn’t been considered above).
Thus, it is abundantly clear that off-street rail systems can easily cater to over 35% of daily trips.
The target mode shares can then be as follows:
- 32% – Metro (57.6 lakhs);
- 05% – SubRail (09.0 lakhs); (Suburban rail may add more capacity).
- 30% – BMTC (54.0 lakhs);
- 15% – NMT (27.0 lakhs);
- 15% – Private (27.0 lakhs);
- 03% – IPT (05.4 lakhs).
Total: 180 lakhs.
Current number of private trips is on the high side (52% or 52 lakhs).
In the above assumptions:
- BMTC’s share is assumed to have increased by just 9 lakhs!
- Private trips has drastically reduced & almost halved from 52 lakhs to 27 lakhs!
- Metro utilisation is at just 70% and suburban rail ridership is assumed as just 9 lakhs.
- IPT trips are assumed to be just 5.4 lakhs (3%) though we have 1,20,000 taxis & over 70,000 auto-rickshaws on city streets as of now.
Yet, city is easily able to cater to 180 lakh trips !!
BMTC that carries about 45 lakhs today, will need to carry 1.2-1.3 crore people per day in 2030 on the same roads as today. i.e. 20,000 buses would all be moving too slowly in the grid-locked traffic;
BMTC does not need to carry 1.2-1.3 crore people per day by 2030, as outlined above. As off-street rail systems (especially metro) begin to expand, BMTC’s role as prime mover will begin to diminish though it will continue as the ‘work horse’ of the transport system.
However, it may never need to have 20,000 buses. Its share as summarised above may be close to about 30% or 54 lakhs, which is a rise by 9 lakhs, or 20%.
This increase is likely to take place largely on the outskirts in new developments (the ring between ORR and NICE Road /PRR). Many long-haul routes may be cut short or diverted to cater to feed rail systems that will start being preferred for longer trips due to time savings by exclusive track systems that have unobstructed right of ways.
Elevated roads will get more people to give up private vehicles and favor public transport (i.e. buses and metro) as they can move faster in public transport;
Road proponents are claiming that elevated roads are going to get more people to give up private vehicles, favor public transport and street-based public transport would begin to move faster.
Nowhere in the world have such experiments succeeded. In fact, road additions of any form have always resulted in unmanageable traffic increases. Cities like San Francisco, Milwaukee, New York, Portland, Toronto, Seoul etc have actually benefited by destroying roadways.
Can these road proponents quote one example of a growing city that has resorted to road expansions, especially urban expressways that have conquered congestion? Cities in Asia (Bangkok, Beijing, Delhi, Jakarta, Manila etc) have all worsened street congestion and pollution with such road expansions.
Road-over-road would shift traffic /goods transport to elevated sections while providing dedicated bus lanes on roads below with good quality footpaths/cycle lanes to ensure buses are easily accessible and move faster.
Shifting traffic to elevated roads is just a wild, theoretical imagination. Besides, goods vehicles must be channeled out of the city core (on to PRR) instead of getting them to pass through citycentre as they add heavily to pollution.
Are dedicated bus lanes really possible on Bangalore’s roads? If so, why have these road proponents not studied that aspect in detail and included bus lanes as part of their grand plans to enable buses to move faster?
Why do they claim that it is possible without checking first? Just to push through these elevated roads?
As someone who had worked on Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) for Bangalore long ago, I can say with certainty that it’s an extremely difficult task if not impossible, given the nature of roads with so many intersections, junctions, turn offs, variable widths and lack of enough straight sections of roads etc (barring ORR /IRR).
Clearly, Bangalore needs to restrict roads and traffic, not increase them with road-centric projects to meet imaginary shortfall of capacity to meet demand!
Experience is the ability to recognize a mistake when you make it again.