BMTC has launched three new bus routes along the IT corridor, to service Sarjapur Road neighbourhoods. In a mini function today, MLA NA Haris, MLC Rizwan Arshad and Bellandur corporator Asha Suresh flagged off the new service.
Two of the routes run in a loop to Electronic City – one in clockwise and the other in anti-clockwise direction – covering neighbourhoods like Kasavanahalli, Doddakannalli, Haralur and HSR Layout. The third route runs in a loop to Carmelaram Railway Station, covering Doddakannalli, Kadubisanahalli, Bellandur Gate and Kaikondrahalli.
Residents along Sarjapur Road have been demanding BMTC services to these areas. The Kasavanahalli Development Forum – a federation of RWAs in Kasavanahalli and Bellandur – has been asking elected representatives and BMTC officials to provide a minibus-based loop service.
Last October, as part of the ‘Save Bellandur’ campaign, around 10,000 people had participated in a silent protest demanding better public transport in Bellandur. Campaigners had also submitted a petition to the state’s Chief Secretary, T M Vijay Bhaskar.
This February 22nd, MLC Rizwan Arshad submitted a letter to MLA N A Haris, Chairman of BMTC, regarding residents’ demand for new routes. Accepting the request, Haris tweeted, “We at the BMTC Headquarters accepted the request from Arshad Rizwan to add 4 new bus routes to aid the IT/BT sector. Buses to the new routes will ply from the 28th of Feb 2019. This will further help in reducing traffic congestions in those areas.” Launch of the routes was postponed to March 5th later.
|New BMTC routes
505-R – Electronic City Wipro Campus – Electronic City – Konappana Agrahara – Hosa Road – Central Jail – Matha Amruthanandamayi College – Kasavanahalli – Kaikondrahalli – Doddakannalli – Jn of Devarabisanahalli – Kadubisanahalli – Citylights Apartment – Jn of Sarjapur Road (Iblur) – Agara – CPWD Quarters – Somasundarapalya – Harlur – Kudlu – Hosa Road – Konappana Agrahara – Electronic City – Electronic City Wipro Campus
505-RA – Reverse of the above route
500-CC – Carmelaram Railway Station – Doddakannali – Jn of Devarabisanahalli – Kadubisanahalli – Citylights Apartment – Jn of Sarjapur Road (Iblur) – Bellandur Gate – Kaikondrahalli – Doddakannalli – Carmelaram Railway Station
Are residents satisfied with the new routes?
Though BMTC acceded to the residents’ requests, it has modified the proposed routes, especially in the case of the two Electronic City buses, leaving residents unhappy.
Residents had requested for routes that would cover the only IT corridor, so that traffic congestion would reduce along Sarjapur Road. “Our route plan was Electronic City – Haralur – ORR – turn back from Kadubisanahalli – Doddakannelli – Wipro Office in Sarjapur Road – Kasavanahalli – Hosa Road – back to Electronic City. The other route to Electronic City would be exact inverse of this,” says Vishnu Prasad, a member of Kasavanahalli Development Forum.
However, the final route approved by BMTC is much longer. It also goes through residential areas like Somasundarapalya and HSR Layout, and the heavily congested Agara junction. As per BMTC’s trip schedule, the bus would take about two hours to cover the entire route during peak hours. Prasad opines that the current route is a recipe for failure. “If a person who goes to Electronic City by car, finds that the bus would add another 40 minutes to his travel time, he would not take the bus,” Prasad says.
The forum had also requested trips at high frequency. They wanted 34 trips for each of the Electronic City routes, one every 15 minutes during peak hours. For the Carmelaram route, the demand was to have 19 trips, only during the peak morning and evening hours. However, BMTC has approved only 10 and five trips respectively for the Electronic City buses 505R and 505RA. For the 500CC Carmelaram route, 11 trips have been approved.
Also, residents had requested for minibuses, since bigger buses have difficulty turning at Haralur, Kaikondrahalli and Doddakannelli junctions. However, it’s not minibuses, but regular-sized buses that will run in the new routes, confirmed Vishwanath K R, Chief Traffic Manager (Operation) at BMTC.
Vishwanath says that currently the routes have been approved on trial basis. “We have to consider many factors including cost, during approval. We will look at the public response to these routes, and then make further decisions,” he says. Meanwhile, the forum plans to have further discussions with Haris and Vishwanath on its concerns.
While the residents are largely happy with the Carmelaram bus route, their concern is that the bus timings have not been synced with the suburban rail timings. “There are many IT employees who come to Carmelaram by train, and take the auto to ORR or to Wipro office on Sarjapur Road. By syncing train and bus timings, last mile connectivity can be provided,” says Vishnu Prasad.
Lack of public transport
Sarjapur Road area has not been serviced by public transport in a long time. The 2016 map below by Sajjad Anwar, a Bengaluru-based programmer, shows how Southeast Bengaluru is poorly serviced. Other than the 500 series servicing the Outer Ring Road, and 342 series and G2 on Sarjapur Road, large swathes of sub-arterial roads and inner neighbourhoods have zero connectivity!
Until a few years back, there were a few routes such 341A to Harlur, 341B to Kasavanahalli, and 341C to Halanayakanahalli, in this area. But the buses were infrequent and unpredictable. When the Haralur and Kasavanahalli junctions turns got blocked, buses could not turn right into the inner roads, and were forced to take an inconvenient U-turn a little ahead. At this point, BMTC stopped those routes entirely, instead of considering alternatives like minibuses.
This forced thousands of residents who lived in new apartment blocks to take out their two wheelers and cars, worsening the traffic congestion on these roads. Those who could not afford their own vehicles, especially migrant workers and the poor, used the so-called “share autos” that are unregulated and illegal. Else, they walked kilometres to get to the main Sarjapur Road or ORR.
What do residents want?
Recently, a survey tried to identify the needs of citizens living in the neighbourhood. Around 250 residents took the online survey and the following pattern was seen.
The data captured thus far shows destinations ranging from Electronic City, Whitefield/ITPL, core city areas as well as the stretch along Outer Ring Road.
The new bus routes could help those traveling between ORR and Electronic City, even though the commute could be longer. Those traveling from Kasavanahalli Road to Marathahalli, Whitefield or beyond would have to go all the way to Kadubisanahalli through Doddakannalli to change buses for onward journey. Those who need to go west or north-west towards the centre of the city, would also need to change buses on Sarjapur Road.
While new bus routes are welcomed by residents, only frequency, dependable schedule and improved route can ensure the plan succeeds and the commuters living in these neighbourhoods start using BMTC, and help reduce congestion.
Note: Navya P K contributed to this article.