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A public transport solution to widening roads

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How to enable Public Transport to save trees in Bangalore?


To write this part, I have relied heavily on statistics of Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation, articles by traffic experts, interviews by transport authorities and a few blogs/articles about Public Transport obtained from internet.

Warning: Lengthy Blog

Public Transport in Bangalore has grown leaps and bound and this is a credit to the authorities. Public Transport in Bangalore should be made free or for some reason if this is not possible, the routes should be rationalized i.e. there should be more direct buses between various points.

To illustrate the point, I will explain with my own case with the table given below:-

  • Mode of Transport ===  Cost in Rs. === Time spent in hours
  • BMTC === 36 === 2.5

Recently, I traveled the same distance in Chennai between Central Railway Station and T Nagar by the local train and my up & down expenditure was a mere Rs.14.

I had recently made a RTI application to the BMTC for obtaining information on comparison of fares in neighboring states but did not get the factual position.

Cost of public transport in Bangalore is prohibitive and time consuming. The above table clearly illustrates the cost point of view. To make the routes profitable, many of them are forcibly routed through the main bus terminuses viz Majestic, Shivajinagar or KR Market. Till last year, Route No 205 was plying directly between Indiranagar and Yeshwanathapur. A journey up and down used to take maximum 1.5 hours. The same route has now been renamed as K1 and is routed through Shivajinagar. As a result, one hour is added to the journey time. The BMTC cannot be faulted for this change since the CAG has suggested in its 2009 report that BMTC should regulate services on uneconomical routes. The CAG on its part was doing its duty and is not to be blamed. The perspective of public transport as a revenue earning model has to be done away with.

The advantages of a free/highly subsidized public transport are many. A study in this regard was done by a Canadian publication "The Tyee" which says that instead of charging more for public transport, giving away free rides, offers plenty of environment benefits. The most important being significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions due to lesser private vehicles on the road and an overall reduction in consumption of oil and petrol/diesel. Here it is to be noted that Hasselt in Belgium offers free public transport since July 1997 and within 18 months, usage of public transport went up by 800%. A more humane effect of free public transport in Belgium was the reduction of road accidents by 80%.

The need for a free/highly subsidized public transport in Bangalore is amplified by these statistics:-

  • Population of Bangalore – 85 lakhs plus.
  • Number of vehicles on the road – 40 lakhs
  • Percentage of two wheelers – 70% say 25 lakhs.
  • One vehicle for every two citizen.
  • Annual growth rate of vehicles – 7-10%
  • The City has around 1800-2000 police personnel who handle its traffic problems
  • Bangalore accounts for the highest accident rates after Mumbai and Calcutta.
  • Number of road accidents every day – 27.
  • Average number of fatalities every day in road accidents – 2 to 3 persons.
  • Estimates of accident cost – Rs.550 crores
  • BMTC carried an average of 3.66 million passengers every day.
  • BMTC revenue for 2009-2010 is Rs.1131.71 crores.

Assuming that each of these 25 lakh two wheeler consume 50 litres of petrol every year ( that is an average 4 litres per month), the yearly fuel consumption is 12.50 crore litres of petrol and this converted into monetary cost at Rs.60 per litre would amount to Rs.750 crores. Add to this the fuel bill of the 15% cars on the roads, it will easily overtake the revenue of BMTC for the year 2009-2010.

Nearly Rs.1000 crores of private expenditure can be saved if BMTC can render its service free of cost/highly subsidizes it or merely rationalizes its routes. What will be the impact on annual expenditure on maintenance of existing roads, widening of roads, reduction in accidents, ecological impact, etc is anybody's guess?

BMTC does have a Bus Day on the 4th of every month for encouraging travel by public transport. In response to my RTI application, BMTC has admitted that it is not offering any special facility in the form of fare concession etc., on Bus Day, it only augments services in the Bus Day corridors to improve bus availability and make room for those opting for bus travel instead of their personal mode. It maybe noted that even this augmentation is done in certain corridors and not the entire city. Public transport being uneconomical and time consuming, who will be willing to take the bait?

Public transport should be the most secure mode for senior citizens but it is not so. A partly two seats are reserved for senior citizens in BMTC buses and more often than not are occupied by able bodied men. Earlier the BMTC in reply to my RTI application stated that the primary responsibility of ensuring seats for senior citizens rests with the conductor of the bus. These hapless conductors are penalized heavily for a ticketless traveller. Instead reserve all the seats except the ladies seat for senior citizens/handicapped people. Others can occupy these seats but once a senior citizen/handicapped person alights a bus, they should vacate it for them.

Public transport should be disassociated from profits. BMTC should look to non conventional sources of income like more advertisements inside the bus, better utilization of its properties in prime locations, public/private funding, etc. Public transport is not a function of income minus expenditure, it is as much a social obligation and one which save greenery on earth.

To begin with, BMTC can try the concept of free service for a month. Alternatively at existing fares, it can rationalize its routes by having more direct routes connecting various parts of the city. The chances of it going bankrupt are minimal. During this period, the increase in percentage of public transport users should be studied as also the decrease in pollution levels. If it succeeds not merely 856 trees on Palace Road, thousands of trees, shops and houses can be saved from the axe/bulldozer for widening of roads across the city of Bangalore.

[EDITOR's NOTE: This post has now been cleaned up of excessive formatting. Please avoid use of flashy font colour and other un-ncessary high-lighting.  The editor's time could be used for more meaningful tasks - Admin]


Naveen's picture

Subsidy has limits

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Chennai Central Railway Station and T Nagar by the local train and my up & down expenditure was a mere Rs.14.

Train fares, which had been kept abysmally low as a policy by Indian Railways to assist the poor since independence, have so far not been revised & the pace of improvement of railway infrastructure in the country has been a major casualty because of this policy. This has resulted in almost all suburban rail systems accumulating huge losses, including Mumbai. Very low fares cannot sustain operation /maintenance of expensive rail networks. New systems (such as the one proposed for bangalore by praja) are not being undertaken entirely by railways for this reason. If private investments are to be tapped, fares would be higher & more in sync with what they should be, though they would still be subsidized with comml & advertizing revenues.

To make the routes profitable, many of them are forcibly routed through the main bus terminuses viz Majestic, Shivajinagar or KR Market.

Buses are run where people want to go. Since these are the main centers in the city, they invite heavy travel demand, similar to Mumbai VT /Churchgate or Dadar. Quite contrary to what you say, we know that BMTC & KSRTC have been trying to shift out their terminals, but there have been news reports that it causes inconvenience to the public.

it will easily overtake the revenue of BMTC

What relevance does higher private fuel expenditure have with BMTC's revenues ?

Nearly Rs.1000 crores of private expenditure can be saved if BMTC can render its service free of cost/highly subsidizes it or merely rationalizes its routes.

Govt is not obliged to provide free transport to save "private expenditure". By this reasoning, govt must also provide free electricity, free water, free housing, etc etc. The subsidy that Indian citizens enjoy (eg, fuel /gas costs) is on the high side & many economists have been advocating slashing or even total removal of subsidies.

this augmentation is done in certain corridors and not the entire city

From what I gather, augmentation of buses everywhere at the same time on bus days would obviously need huge number of buses - possibly even double of what they now have. Hence, only select routes or areas are being targeted to popularize & promote bus travel.

Public transport is not a function of income minus expenditure, it is as much a social obligation and one which save greenery on earth.

Social obligations have limits. Fares can be subsidized to a certain extent, but not beyond as capital will have to be raised in some other way to pay for running the services (ie. by increasing taxes, which most people will resent since non-users will also be forced to pay for services they do not use).

The chances of it going bankrupt are minimal.

If bus services are run free, BMTC will go bankrupt since commercial & advertizing alone cannot pay for operations & maintenance, besides staff salaries & the state will have to provide full subsidies. There are limitations on ways of raising capital to pay for operating & maintaining the services. How & where will the money come from for operating totally free services ? As it is, people try & avoid paying income taxes, property taxes, etc etc.

balu036's picture

Public transport at loss to reduce emission if Govt is serious

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Naveen thanks for your comments and it is very well elucidated.


Having said that I will retort the same


Even in Kolkatta which is much bigger city than Bangalore, the metro rates are lower. All that it requires is Government will, if they are serious about reducing carbon emission level compared to revenues/loss to BMTC. If a journey by two wheeler/shared four wheeler is cheaper than public transport, why would anyone use a BMTC bus. The chennai example was for literal sense since the CPIO of BMTC had the information did not give me answer for the question


Routing buses through important terminuses only increases the time of journey as illustrated in my table, people these days consider time as money, instead if various locations have direct bus, it will increase the intention to use public transport. A direct bus between Indiranagar and Yeshwanthpur will shun the need for private transport of atleast 30 people in my office who use private transport today because it is tedious to use public transport. This is the definite number, there may many more people who travel to places between Indiranagar and Yeshwanthapur, who would be willing to do the same. I am giving these two definitions as an illustrative example and does not mean having direct buses between these two locations would solve all the problems.


BMTC is not a listed company or answerable to its shareholders, it is not bound by any profits. It is main aim should be to ensure that more and more people use public transport and to attain that goal it should use all tricks in the book even if one of them is highly subsidised rates and run half full buses between various destinations


If you are listening to economists like Mr Surjeet Bhalla, on subsidies just forget it. To the extent I support a differential price for domestic gas cylinders i.e. a person in a fancy flat and another staying in a slum should not be paying the same rates.  Public transport is subsidised even in some of the european countries and that is the way to go, if we are worried about ecology or else we can concentrate on short term profits.


Bus day as done now is more of a symbolisim or to be harsh a joke on the sensibilities. Certainly the BMTC can afford one day in a month of 50% fares, it will create some sort of stimulus

Bus fares on BMTC are not subsidised in any aspect, almost there is a clamour for profit in every way, that is what my RTI application revealed.

There are n number of IT companies, Government organisations, BPOs, commercial establishments, even a 1 or 2% increase in professional tax will meet the defiicit. When it comes to public transport if it is quick and efficient, people have to use, they dont do so, they cant complain about extra taxes levied.


I thank you for the arguements put forward? Have a strange idea how about banning private transport on the bus day in which corridor it is conducted.


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