The BMTC is launching the Kendriyasarige, a bus service that will serve Bengaluru’s central business district, and the Big 10 service that will be a direct route connecting 10 major roads in the city to the outer ring roads.
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The BMTC has adopted some of the suggestions given in the ABIDe report on transport and has taken the initiative to apply them even before the government asks them to do so.
“The new launches are definitely going to benefit public transport system, thus, the earlier we do it the better it is,” says P S Sandhu, Director, BMTC. He thinks that unless the suggestions in the ABIDe reports are put into action, they will always remain on paper.
The Kendriyasarige is a bus service, also called the Hop on Hop off (HOHO) bus service, will run in the central business district only. The route covers the whole area from the Police Housing Corporation, Hosmat Hospital to Trinity Circle. Almost 20 bus stops in the anti-clockwise manner and around 13 clockwise are planned. Nine air-conditioned Volvo buses will run clockwise and anti-clockwise in this circle itself. The longest trip on this route will take a maximum of 20 minutes.
There will be nine buses running every hour on the route. Bus frequency at the stops varies from three to seven minutes. At the same time the BBMP has decided to improve the pedestrian side-walks so that it becomes easier for people to reach the bus stops. These buses will also offer the lowest fare among all Volvo buses till date (the exact amount to be decided).
This is just the first step; more such services are planned elsewhere in the city to allow optimum use of the buses and public transport on the whole.
The other service to be launched – the Big 10 service, is a bus service that will connect 10 major roads to the outer ring road of the city. These 10 big roads are Tumkur Road, Hosur Road, Bannerghatta Road, Kanakpura Road, Mysore Road, Bellary Road, Magadi Road, Sarjapur Road, Old Madras Road and HAL Airport Road. Commuters need not take longer routes by going either to Majestic or to city market bus stations and change buses to reach their respective outer ring roads.
The new BMTC services are taking off from reports released by sub-groups from Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa’s Agenda for Bangalore Infrastructure and Development task force (ABIDe). These reports, containing recommendations and written by ABIDe members, are titled Govern Bengaluru, Road Traffic Management & Transportation (RTMT), urban poor, and secure Bengaluru. They have been published online recently and are available for public scrutiny.
“The ring road service is something that aims at intuitive system of public transport to be in place. If we get the first 90 per cent right, then even if we have to put in lots in the remaining 10 per cent it is worth the effort and the money. As the BMTC is constantly acquiring more Volvo buses; the new launches will be using these ones and some Volvos which are already running on some [unprofitable] routes might also be used,” explains Ashwin Mahesh, co-author of the Road Traffic Management & Transportation report and also a member of ABIDe. R K Mishra is the other author. Mahesh is a faculty at the Centre for Public Policy in Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore and an advisor to the BMTC.
The RTMT report focuses on strengthening Bengaluru’s public transport system and maximize its use. The report contains studied suggestions on various issues like making different rings (similar to the HOHO Plan) even in other parts of the city, using Volvo service to its optimum by reducing the fares and putting it on most used routes, there are suggestions to relieve tension and congestions in the core part of the city and utilize areas like Whitefield and Yelahanka.
Pedestrians also get a high priority in this report as there are suggestions for improving special areas for pedestrians and cyclists. There are suggestions even for viable options for making the travel to airport easier and faster. The report also has various suggestions for the Metro rail project, wherein, there is a need to provide 4-5 bus stations at every metro rail station for a connected travel. With all these guidelines, the report has a lot more to enhance the present public transport system and make it more efficient with the present resources. The report prioritises data-based development and improvement in techno-managerial positions in the public sector.
“The ABIDe report is a structured way to achieve a viable public transport system,” says Mahesh. He aims at achieving a situation where people should be able to identify from the bus board, where it goes. People need not keep wondering where to get a bus from to reach a particular location. There is also need of a direction based bus system in place so that more people take a bus. If we know where the bus is going and where to get it from, then it will certainly bring in more commuters.
“Our main motive is to make public transport system better. For the people, bus should become an obvious choice to travel in the city. External bodies are an additional strength to any organization (here for BMTC), they help push the government to achieve better advocacy,” he says.
Mahesh’s firm, Mapunity, has prepared and is maintaining a database for the BMTC. He and his team have held consultations, surveys and regular meetings with BMTC officials to prepare the database which has details about how many people travel per day, on which route and how much is the public transport system helping the public.
With two of ABIDe’s suggestions beings implemented by the BMTC immediately, the remaining suggestions in this particular report and all the other reports are still open for the public to criticize and comment on. We may soon see more such developments coming our way, meanwhile, let’s enjoy the HOHO experience.