text of letter sent to the New Indian Express:
I refer to the report captioned 'auto lanes may be allotted to BMTC' published in your columns on the 5th instant.
The idea of 'dedicated lanes' for BMTC buses seems to have caught the fancy of every self-appointed traffic expert. And, there seem to be plenty of them in the city today, apart from the author.
Now, going by plain logic, supposing in any given route direction, BMTC is operating at a frequency of a bus every 3 minutes, and the buses are moving at an average speed of 10 kmph, there will be a gap of 500 M between any two buses. As such, if a lane is dedicated exclusively for the buses, it will then push out 100 other vehicles from this 500 M stretch (making for 200 vehicles per km), assuming an average vehicle length of 5M, and near bumper-to-bumper traffic conditions. This is total under utilisation of high demand city road space.
There is a telling picture of a stretch of road in some city, showing an empty stretch of over 100M behind a bus on a dedicated lane, even as the adjoining lane (in the same direction) is totally cluttered with vehicles of all kinds, particularly two-wheelers. Very clearly, even with having introduced high capacity mass transport bus services on dedicated lanes, the citizens still prefer to use their two-wheelers, leading to the problems remaining unresolved.
The above is just one factor. The chaos the dedicated lanes cause at road junctions is another major factor. Further, with the dedicated lanes generally located on either side of the central median, providing access to commuters becomes complicated and expensive. Dedicated lanes on the edges are a new concept, but suffer from similar infirmities.
Thus, while dedicated lanes may be OK on stretches leading to and from bus depots, or on stretches where the frequency is higher than say a bus every 15 seconds, on regular roads, they are totally ill-advised.
Rather than dedicated lanes, total ban on private vehicles (meaning - vehicles other than buses, taxi's and auto's) on select stretches, during peak hours, would any day be preferable.
The idea of the auto lanes on arterial roads was, in the first place, to segregate slow moving traffic. The purpose will be better achieved by banning slow moving traffic altogether on these roads, and confining them to the non-arterial roads. Eventually, however, it would be best if auto's are gradually phased out of the city roads over a couple of years, and replaced by four-wheeler taxi's, by incentivising the process.