With great urgency, in your very first budget, you have announced an undebated ‘Elevated Corridor’ project that has not had public consultation, and followed no due process. Another project is an untested technology called ‘Pod Taxi’, again not following any due process or transparency! These are listed neither in the master plan for Bengaluru, nor in any integrated mobility plan for the city.
These will impact the 1.2 crore residents of the city in many ways. The Elevated Corridors project will cost the exchequer Rs. 34,000 crores, 151 acres of land, and almost 4000 trees. That’s a shocking public cost to be approved without public consent. This will turn our city into an eternal construction site, and reduce the quality of life in Bengaluru, beyond imagination!
What you also haven’t factored in is that the entire plan is premised on a faulty logic: You plan to create highways across the sky, but where will the cars go after they get off the elevated highway? They will land straight into traffic jams created by the bottlenecks at every exit. So, the city will be filled with new traffic jams, of even higher intensity. Eventually, they will end up being traffic jams in the sky, just as the Electronic City elevated corridor has ended up being. Do we need such a disaster?
So, eventually, it will take away our trees, money and land, further destroy our city’s aesthetics, and create more pollution and congestion in our city, but will not save us anything. So, why are you selling us this lie? Who is the government working for? What is the sanctity of the institution of government? This is a serious matter of propriety and of due process.
When legitimate experts are recommending sustainable solutions in an integrated manner, instead why is the government listening to self-proclaimed experts and lobbyists, who are ‘batting’ for a short-sighted, ‘designed to fail’ project?
The reputed Indian Institute of Science has generated a report that clearly spells out what the city requires. It is here for all to see:
Vested interests and lobbies seem to be hijacking the city’s governance in a bid to corner the city’s resources, with scant respect to the consequences on the residents, the city, and disrespect to democracy, rule of law and due diligence.
It is vital that the government do something on a warfooting to reduce congestion and provide solutions that work for all Bengalureans. So, here are some demands and questions to the Chief Minister of Karnataka:
1) Suburban Train Beku : Where have you shown urgency in executing the Suburban Rail? It will take hardly any money to set up the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). It will take very little money to get the local commuter rail operational, all it takes is upgrading to automatic signalling, and stations at short distances. The bigger suburban rail network can come later, but local trains can certainly run every 15 mins or half hour, on the existing infrastructure within months, spending very little money.
2) Bus Priority Beku: The existing roads are chocked with private vehicles, reducing the efficiency with which the buses ply. They are also stuck in the same traffic jams, even though they shoulder the burden of more than 50 lakh rides per day. The majority of the citizens of the city have to wait in traffic jams, because of the others who use private transport. With relatively low investment, you could convert the entire road network into a Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) Network, or at least have Bus Priority Lanes on all roads. You just need to demarcate ‘Separate Bus Lanes’ on the existing arterial roads, fence them, integrate the signalling, have pelican signals at all bus stops for pedestrians to cross. This will improve the efficiency of buses a 1000 fold, and encourage those who depend on private transport to shift to public transport, reducing congestion and pollution.
4) Janarige Soulabhya maadi, Gaadigalige alla! : The focus of the government, if it’s intentions are genuine, has to be ‘to move people, not vehicles’. To do this there are various other ways, that wouldn’t require the government to scar and “RIP” the city with a cross, of elevated corridors. There are multiple ways of meeting the requirements such as Suburban Rail, Metro, Trams, Monorails, etc., The laws need to be changed to allow reliable last mile connect to all the above means. The carriage act needs amendment to allow participation of other players such as shared rickshaws, mini buses, etc., using new crowdsourced technologies, to support and augment public transport, so that residents would never need to own a vehicle of their own. Where is the will to do all this, and to introduce legislation to upgrade the transport framework for a modern Bengaluru?
5) Holistic Strategy Beku : The fundamental flaw with this ad hoc decision is that you are supporting more cars and private vehicles which pollute, use more resources and destroy the living conditions of the city, instead of promoting cyclists and pedestrians and public transit users, who will reduce use of resources, pollution and the burden on the state. Where is the high level strategy on this decision?
6) Democracy Beku : You are elected to represent the views of the citizens. So, then, where is the public consultation with citizens, before you take such a huge decision, on our commons, resources and tax exchequer? Instead, why are you listening to lobbies and vested interests?
7) Capacity Building Beku : There is scant effort to build expertise and responsibility into governance. The Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC) and the Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA), both of which have legitimate roles in planning an integrated Transport Framework for the city, are not set up or empowered. Please do this quickly, so that we can have qualified Urban Planners planning the city.
8) Integration beku: Please set up the Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) quickly so that all transport entities and properties can come under one authority and regulator, and let all funding for transport projects flow through this body. This will ensure that there is integrated planning and there is proper integration and inter-connection between all modes of transport. And the buck can stop at someone responsible! At present every single operator is working in 0ne’s own bubble, and citizens have to do acrobatics to even switch from one mode of transport to the other.
9) Taxation/Profit Beda: Public transportation, especially monopoly is a service from the state to its citizens, using public infrastructure and funds! There is absolutely no sense in taxing them. Please remove all taxes on public transport, make them attractive to everyone to use. In fact, do not run any of these for profit. We, the citizens are the owners of these entities, how dare they profit from us? If anything, the state should subsidise these. The ideal goal would be to make them free for everyone to use.
10) Transparency Beku : Where is the transparency? We need it to understand what is happening and why.
We have a simple IMMEDIATE solution for you:
‘Public transport beku’
First, please implement the public transit options, ie., suburban rail, bus rapid transport system, metro, monorail and last mile connectivity. After these are executed, if there is need for other solutions, we’ll see then!
Right now, can we please focus and prioritise public transport only?
All those chauffeur-driven AC car owning advisors who are batting for these projects, are not your voter base. It’s time you listen to citizens, engage with citizens.
Your government is already hanging on a thread. Do you really require this kind of bad publicity? Please don’t shorten the life of your govt, by diving straight into a controversy of this magnitude.
One thing you can absolutely be certain of, we citizens will not rest, till illegal and illogical projects are shelved, and legitimate projects are taken up!
To conclude, we citizens are asking for very simple things. Spend all the money you wish to, but spend it on a complete solution! If you need help, we have summarised all of this here, in a Citizens’ Agenda for Transportation: http://bit.ly/CA4Transportation
Citizens of Bengaluru.