Once the lockdown lifts, how do we facilitate Bengalureans’ travel across the city?
With the economy coming to a complete standstill due to the lockdown, transport needs as well as options have temporarily reduced to almost nothing. While several companies in the IT and services industry are looking at work-from-home as an option going forward, that will not be the same with manufacturing, bio-technology and establishment sectors.
However, if you look at the employment distribution industries, establishments and street vendors account for about 85% of the total employment in the city.
The big question is once the city opens how do we facilitate their travel?
Another interesting data point is the job density in the city. The map below shows the job densities in different parts of the city. The major clusters being Peenya, CBD, Old Airport Road, Whitefield, Madiwala-BTM and Electronic City. I would also add Kengeri-Bidadi to this list.
To begin with the Government of Karnataka can think of opening up these areas and could experiment with Peenya, Bidadi and Old Airport Road after ensuring these are not within the containment zones or hotspots.
One more data point is the distribution of trips according to mode of travel as presented in the figure below. Public transport trips (bus, minibus, school bus, chartered bus and metro) account for 32% of the total trips.
The challenge for the city is to facilitate safe travel in public transport modes and while walking.
It will be easy to follow social distancing norms while using own vehicles and probably with shared vehicles as well. In shared vehicles-car, taxis and autos allowing only one person in the back seat would probably be the new norm. The biggest challenge will be to handle the public transport services.
Specifically, BMTC services, the backbone of mobility in Bengaluru, will be of utmost importance as they carried almost 4 million daily trips pre-Covid.
BMTC’s routes have evolved along the major arterials known as the BIG-10. The figure shows the total number of trips along different sections of a corridor. The variation in boarding and alighting along the corridor will help in rationalising the routes to major destinations.
For example, the movement along Peenya Corridor is very clearly seen- three major points along the corridor are 8th mile, Makali and Nelamangala.
The approach to open up the corridors along the employment zones can be calculated based on the following methodology:
- The number of total passengers along a specific BIG-10 corridor can be easily calculated based on the route level data that is available along the corridors. For example, a BIG 10 corridor carries anywhere between 200,000-300,000 trips. For the purpose of our calculations we are considering 200,000 passengers.
- From the table below we can see that about 65% of the trips are employment trips in BMTC although it will vary corridor to corridor but is a good starting point.
|Trip Purpose||Percentage (%)|
- Due to gradual opening in the very first month after lock down assume only 30% of these trips will happen (dependent upon the number of employees that are allowed to travel to work)
Passenger Demand along the corridor
= Number of passenger trips along the corridor x Percentage of employment-related trips x Percentage of trips that are allowed in the immediate future
= 200,000 x 65% x 30%
= 39,000 (approx)
- Maximum possible occupancy in a bus under social distancing conditions is about 20-25
- Pre- Covid,
= Passenger trips (/day/bus carried out by BMTC) x Average trip length of a passenger trip (10kms)
= 800 x 10
Peak load in the bus = 75 passengers including sitting and standing
Ratio of overall number of people carried to the peak load experienced on a normal day in BMTC = 800/75= 10.6 (approximately)
- Post Covid,
New Supply (Number of passengers carried /day/bus)
= New Occupancy x Carrying Ratio
= 25 x 10.6
Number of buses required along the corridor
= # of trips along the corridor / new supply per bus
= 39000 / 266
= 146 bus trips to be operated
This can be fine-tuned to peak periods in the morning and evening and accordingly frequency of services can be determined. It is recommended to run trunk only services along the corridor without adding much feeder services. It will be good to begin with this approach along 3-4 employment corridors (non-IT)
BMTC can also consider contracting buses to private manufacturing industry clusters to run as per their needs.
In addition, some measures like digital payments, ensuring safety of the crew, usage of masks, waiting at bus stops all need to be implemented. However, the financial situation of BMTC would be a big challenge post the lockdown. BMTC would also become an essential service for taking people to jobs – a big priority for all of us. Therefore, the Government of Karnataka and BBMP need to support BMTC in funding the revenue gaps to be able to pay their employees.
[Pawan Mulukutla has written this article in his individual capacity. Parthu Balina also contributed to this article with data support.]