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Part I: BRTS

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Metro RailTraffic

Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS)
Earlier (1999), a feasibility study for BRTS had identified a promising network of 20 corridors for bus routes comprising twin central rings intersected by 8 radial routes, with assistance from SIDA, Sweden. A pilot project of 12kms from Jayanagar to Shivajinagar with a combination of exclusive lanes with priority of passage at signals & construction of rapid transit lines was planned but never materialized & was abandoned without any attempt. There is no mention of this in the CTTP-2007 report, either. If this had commenced then, we might have seen it progress to some extent & at least, public opinion about the value of such quicker means of public travel would have been recognized.

The CTTP-2007 report has now identified 14 new BRT corridors (totaling 291.5 kms), mostly outside CBDs. The recent urban road infrastructure oriented BBMP budget again seems to focus on ‘improving connectivity’ for private vehicles without any attention to stem the rot & pay fuller attention to improving public transport & try BRT options. Also, the ongoing installation of ‘magic boxes’ of narrow width again seem to cater to & encourage private vehicle use. Such solutions might provide temporary relief, but will surely turn into obstacles as motorization levels increase with the present approach. Several Indian cities such as Ahmedabad, Pune & Delhi have already begun experimenting BRT options, but sadly, Bangalore, with the worst possible road & traffic conditions, is yet to commence trying BRT options.

Public transport services (BMTC) have been at the mercy of unrestrained competition & dominance by individual motor vehicles & are fighting a losing battle with passenger volumes steadily falling. The long-held biases in favor of private vehicles urgently need to be undone & public transport (BRTS /BMTC) needs to be given on–street priority at all stages, wherever possible, to make them efficient & better alternatives than individual motor vehicles.

A possible way to commence such options now, for a start is to provide priority of passage through the magic boxes for only public transport & essential services, such as BMTC buses, Vajra Volvos for airport, Suvarna services, etc. & for emergency use such as ambulances, traffic police activities, street maintenance, etc. since space is limited & crowding will be avoided through these narrow underpasses. Roads over drains, if built & elevated roads could also be considered with exclusive lanes for public transport. In congested areas, suitable narrower roads could be converted for passage of only buses, whilst allowing only private vehicles belonging to residents within that lane through boom /barrier controls. Once these have been stabilized, dedicated lanes can be allocated on wider surface roads. By then, hopefully, public opinion will favor these developments & users will increase, with a reduction in private vehicle use. Various types of buses can be operated, all enjoying priority of passage at signals & on exclusive lanes. High quality bus services need to be provided to be car-competitive & comfort levels improved to sway quality conscious commuters – this may be the only solution for the city’s traffic woes as buses are the ‘Workhorses’ of the transport system, & this may remain so even after Metro-rail & other systems are in place.


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