Open letter to DULT and BMTC on improving public transport in Bengaluru

Citizen feedback on public transport

A passenger sitting inside a volvo bus in Bengaluru
Introducing more buses is required. Pic: Pragathi Ravi

Dear 

Smt. Manjula V,

Commissioner, Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT)

Smt. G. Sathyavathi,

Managing Director, Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) 

This is with reference to a webinar held by Citizen Matters, Bengaluru, on what makes commuters choose cars and bikes over buses and metro and how this can change. The webinar, titled ‘‘Why not public transport?’, was held on July 21, 2023. 

The panellists included experts, Srinivas Alavilli, Fellow, Integrated Transport and Road Safety, World Resources Institute (WRI) India; Shreya Satish Mokhashi, Assistant Urban Planner at Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT); Jayenkumar Desai, Head of Strategy and Transformation VMware Software India Pvt Ltd; and Lalithamba BV, a citizen of Bengaluru and an advocate of sustainable transport. Common citizens had also attended the webinar and shared their insights.

You can watch the video here for reference. 

Based on the inputs by the panellists and citizens, we would like to share some concerns and suggestions for improving public transport in Bengaluru. 

A screenshot of the panellists of the Citizen Matters, Bengaluru, event: Why not public transport?
Screenshot of the event. Pic: Harshitha Padmavinod

Concerns: 

  1. One of the key concerns was congested road space due to haphazard parking of vehicles and hawkers occupying footpaths, making it difficult to wait at bus stops or walk to the metro station. 
  2. Issues with last mile connectivity and lack of seamless public transport connection across the city. As per an OpenCity report, seven constituencies, which comprises 25% of the city, have no metro stations. In many areas, the nearest bus stops are more than two kilometres. 
  3. Lack of pedestrian safety, due to unsafe crossings, broken footpaths etc compels people to use cars and bikes for short distance travel
  4. Bus timings are not fixed as per schedule, which makes it difficult to plan commute
  5. While there are approximately one crore private vehicles in the city, in comparison, the bus fleet has hovered around 6,000 to 6,500. Likewise, the completion of the metro, speeded up only recently, still takes time. Delay in implementation of projects, such as introducing more buses and laying metro lines is a cause for concern. 

Suggestions: 

  1. A unified smart card to access all public transport would be beneficial in the long run as commuters would not have to wait in long queues to buy tickets or face issues with change while buying tickets. This will enhance the experience of using public transport
  2. Reduce congestion by relocating hawkers and organising street parking. This would help in creating more space for pedestrians 
  3. Provide more feeder buses, shared autos and loop buses to connect to metro transits for last mile connectivity
  4. Introduce bus lanes on high density routes for smooth travel. This will help in better bus service and reduce congestion in busy junctions
  5. Ensure better designed and well maintained footpaths, pedestrian crossings, so people do not opt for private vehicles to commute shorter distances
  6. Add relevant information in bus stops/shelters about bus frequency for hassle-free travel
  7. Introduce paid street parking to ensure safety and more space for pedestrians.. Provide annual parking passes to avoid congestion
  8. Introduce double decker buses, as they are appealing and can accommodate more passengers
  9. Develop Namma BMTC app adequately. As of now, the app doesn’t function to its maximum potential
  10. Encourage corporates to run their own buses for employees, a facility which has been stopped in several places. Incentivise carpooling, where people can share one car to their workplaces
  11. Create awareness among corporates to take inspiration from international workplaces to incentivise employees who switch to sustainable transport

(Report compiled by Harshitha Padmavinod)

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1 Comment

  1. In my humble opinion,the assumption that buses are the best modes of public transport is flawed.(more so in the case of double decker buses.Let us please start thinking about reducing the volume/size of the buses. Nobody has insisted that a certain number of people (50-60) should be carried at a time in a single vehicle. The WIDTH and HEIGHT of the vehicles have to be reduced to achieve any meaningful decongestion. If the available roads are considered as a fixed volume, adding more volume by way of huge buses is not going to be of any help. Any vehicle user in Bangalore can tell how difficult it is to NOT JUMP a signal while one is behind a BMTC bus. Let there be a debate about a LARGE LUMBERING BUS vs SMALLER NIMBLER BUSES. Allow the BMTC drivers and the smaller vehicle users to take part. Adding more infrastructure and dumping more and more huge buses is not going to solve the problem for the next 25 years.

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