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Elitist infra projects - BETL

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Infrastructure

Being elitist may never payoff and more so if you you have an elitist attitude towards Infrastructure projects

On August 23, 2010, I was driving back from Madurai and took the Elevated Road that links E City to Silk board jn. Envisioned and supported by IT giants.

A project that was acclaimed a "successful" PPP project and most of the "P" were from E-City who wanted a quick connectivity to the over congested NH7. A project that had a lot of labour pain before delivery.

The road is Gooood, Hey... I was cruising at a steady 80 KMPH I feel happy that this is one of the good roads that Bengaluru has. Mind you, any one who drives along that road would be proud looking at namma Bengaluru's iconic IT development. Just a few kilometers on and i saw an IT techie who was pushing his bike..... he had a flat tire, I felt very bad as he had to push his bike possibly several kms before he gets to the other end.

Another few Kms i see another IT techi carrying his friends helmet and laptop bag and walking along while his friend is pushing his bike. My guess was that they had run out of fuel.

If only this road was designed with less elitist perspective ... The 10KM road would have had 1-2 turns connecting other parts in between Silkboard Jn and E-City. This could have helped the common people in those areas as well.

Its not that we (praja) had not thought of this earlier, here is a praja blog on similar lines - silk board elevated highway

 

This was a an original post on my facebook http://facebook.com/photo...

Comments

ashok_n's picture

Elitist project

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Photoyogi,

Your post about BETL being an elitist project is bang on target. This is simple waste of tax-payers money. 5-6 well designed flyovers/underpasses would have achieved the same result, by making the stretch signal-free. The cost would have been just 200 crore, and not 800 crores spent on it. And also PT would have greatly benefitted.

A "Bangalore Elevated Toll Road" is a glamourous project compared to 5-6 flyovers. Some egos are hard to satisfy.

Off topic, but I feel the HSRL to the airport will be a similar white-elephant - elitist, glamourous, and useless. (please do not discuss HSRL in this thread... this is just a comment)

 

srinidhi's picture

costly mistake..but..

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 Hey Praveen,

Long time not seen you here..yes BETL can be called elitist however coming to your points of vehicle breakdown on the road..I remember seeing lay byes on the bridge designed for such situations..these have telephones which can be used to call for help..

so think thats taken care of..its just that we need to start using it..

However this bridge is more like the other costly mistakes that Blr is getting used to these days..

National College Flyover

Tagore circle underpass

TTMC's

etc

Still hope authorities will learn from all this..

Rithesh's picture

Welcome

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Photoyogi, Long time no see.. welcome back!  

Rithesh's picture

BETL running under loss

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A report in today's TOI claims that BETL is not generating enough revenues. To cover the operational and interest costs, BETL should earn atleast Rs. 18.5 Lakhs per day. However the current average is Rs. 14 Lakhs. 

According to officials, the expressway had to generate Rs 18.5-lakh revenue on a daily basis to come anywhere close to financial sustainability. “Of the Rs 18.5 lakh, Rs 16.5 lakh is towards interest payment on loans and Rs 2 lakh for daily operation costs. We haven’t taken into account portions of the principal amount to be repaid to banks as part of the Rs 18.5-lakh revenue needed every day, which means we need to generate more money,” they said. 

Full report here.

What next - govt subsidy or bailout?

Sanjeev's picture

Why not ask IT companies

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BETL was for the Electronic city and all IT companies their subscribed to the idea during that time.

As Ashok mentioned, 5-6 well designed flyovers/underpasses would have achieved the same result, by making the stretch signal-free. Take the case  of  NH-7  from Hebbal to BIAL, now here also NHAI  are going to make same mistake to help some private players and not in the interest of Public.  And same  with HSRL too.

So as citizens of Bangalore  now have to get used to the increase in Travel cost within city.  With NH-4 at Nelamangala, NH-7 at Hebbal, BETL at Hosur and Mysore road will soon become toll  road, in a few years to come,  all road in Blr will  become toll roads.  Then we will realize how cost effective to travell by  METRO & Commuter Rail with BMTVC as feeder service.

 

nl.srinivas's picture

Can't call it elitist. It is

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Can't call it elitist. It is poor planning as with many such projects.


Naveen's picture

Priority was Mass Transport

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I think BETL type freeways are also necessary for the city, but what was wrong with this is that the authorities went ahead with the elevated tollway before positioning a mass transit along Hosur rd (accommodating demands from car lobbies).

Ideally, Metro ph-1 should have been routed from Tumkur rd to Hosur rd /EC (instead of Jayanagar-Kanakapura rd). One reason why Metro did not up come along Hosur rd is because earlier study reports kept repeating Jayanagar for ELRTS & Metro route planning also went the same way, instead of considering new realities & far more development on Hosur rd.

BETL is bound to struggle now with the shift of users to PTs. The Metro route along Hosur rd in ph-2 will only make it worse for them.

idontspam's picture

BETLĀ is bound to struggle now

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BETL is bound to struggle now with the shift of users to PTs

And therein lies and opportunity for the BETL. As I have always maintained, they can ask all buses (BMTC + interstate) to run on the flyover and allow all private vehicles to run below. This will provide PT priority

But this requires a huge attitudinal change + little capital investment to make bus stops on the flyover with ramps to get down on either side + shift toll booths to tolling the surface pvt vehicles instead.

srinidhi's picture

Its just a matter of time..

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that BETL will break even..the fairly free widened road below is now a deterrent for the bridge users..

But this is sure to change as the traffic on the toll-free at-grade road grows and then there will be a shift to the bridge..

But a bigger question is will BeTL survive till then! If it does not, then either the state or NHAI will need to take over it!

NRN/Premji/KMS were the leaders who got this in place..it should be upto them now to make their institutions start using the road effectively!

ashok_n's picture

Vehicle statistics

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Also the math in the TOI report does not add up. The report says there are 1000 vehicles on an average per hour. That's 24000 vehicles per day. 14 Lakh revenue / 24000 vehicles = 58 rs per vehicle. Is the toll really so much?

btw, do the Electronic city company's bus shuttles (for e.g Infy buses) use the BETL? If yes, who is bearing the cost of the Toll?

rackstar's picture

One Extra Ramp Halfway

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The elevated expressway needs extra ramps (up and down) halfway on flyover, around near kudlu gate. It will increase traffic and useful if a vehicle gets punctured/ runs out of fuel. But problem with ramps halfway is you need tollgates there too.

Construction of ramps is easy, you can see ramp in front of infosys campus, which looks parallel construction. I think any elevated road needs a ramp every 5 km, this one being 9 km badly needs a ramp halfway.

ananth.bangalore's picture

EIA anybody?

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I cant seem to be able to post without all the junk above- when copy-pasting from word.

Does anybody have any access to the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) that must have been done before this project was taken up? This report should talk about

a) The need for and the scope of  the project- the objectives that is(important to know who benefits)

b. The methodology for the assessment

c. The raw material or data that this report refers to- that has been used in the assessment (for e.g., traffic volume data or population density distribution along the corridor)

This report should also state

a. The impact this project will have on the traffic systems and patterns- some predictions

b. The economic viability of the project

c. The stress this project might create on the environment, direct impact on neighborhoods surrounding the area of the project (singasandra for e.g.)

d. May not be relevant to discussion here, but good EIAs can also talk about the amount of energy that will be spent in constructing and running this corridor (materials used, transportation, human labor etc) and its impact on our resources (forests, mines etc.) In the case of this project, timber might have been used extensively in shuttering works and steel in scaffolding works. Some of them are redeemable and some are not. That that cannot be redeemed is generally considered energy spent at the expense of the environment.

All this among many other things. Maybe this project was supposed to be elitist or maybe not. It will be clear from this assessment if this project was supposed to solve anything and how much it was future-proof.

Warning: Even if this assessment exists, it may be incomplete; it may not have considered indirect implications on the socio-economic fabric of the relevant areas. Also, there is no telling if this report was supposed to be biased when completed.

But, whatever has been stated in the assessment can be easier to verify. That might  throw some light on the competency of the project.

 

silkboard's picture

blanket criticism - too harsh

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That such a project was prioritized over a mass transport option is not right. BETL deserves criticism on that count. That is what is elitist about it. However, please do not extend this criticism to every other aspect of the project.

But the idea of elevated road is to separate long distance traffic from short distance one. Remember, this is an NHAI project, not BDA or BBMP. Target "audience" for the elevated roads are vehicles heading out from Bangalore region altogether to other city. That way long distance vehicles move smoother and some traffic gets freed up on at-grade road.

Having entry exit ramps every few kilometers doesn't fit with this design principle. Asking for them would be like asking for a cut in the median of Outer ring road every 2 kilometers.

Criticize and criticize heavily, but there is no need to get into blanket mode. Ignoring PT aspect is what needs criticism, and like Naveen, I am with everyone on that count.

IDS proposes some ideas NHAI can use to redeem itself on PT front. But given that the elevated lanes are tight, you would need extra elevated structures (platforms on the side of elevated road, at 3 places, both sides, to x2 = 6 places) for making bus stands. Then you would need ramps (lifts?) to bring people up and down. And then some fence separation etc to prevent spillover of people from bus stands to the elevated highway. Too much work, which I can't trust NHAI or any road builder to do because they just don't know PT well enough (if they did, they would have thought of things during design phase itself).

I would rather increase toll on this road, call it "PT Ignorance tax", and use the money to develop BRT corridors elsewhere in the city :)

Srivatsava's picture

Disagree!!

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Photoyogi,

Mysore Road flyover was an equally 'elitist' project of the 90's. Today, Mysore road has turned  into the world's largest  and 'best maintained' museum, depicting the wor torn Afghan roads to Bangaloreans. Despite such terrible conditions, I tend to take the road as much as possible since it gives me the 'luxury' of going 2.5 kms in 3 mins or less.

Wait for a couple of more years, I am sure will be discussing the BETL flyover/expressway again, but for the short-sighted vision of our planners who built a narrow 2+2 lanes road!!

One of the reasons why such projects do not enjoy high patronage early is due to the long construction periods. The couple of examples Srinidhi takes (National College and possibly Tagore Circle in future) are cases when construction go on way longer than schedule. The people get used to 'convenient' alternative roads in the vicinity.

In case of BETL, the messy construction period ensured that people started using their company buses. BMTC gave a push to public bussing around the time the toll was introduced. Mind you, the Volvos were hardly spoken of when the flyover was conceptualised in 2003/4/5. Naturally, BETL lost out. NICE expressway ate a large portion of the south/west bound traffic since it connects to Mysore road well within the city (near PESIT/Nayandahalli).

Wait for some some, wait for the metro to help over come the mindset against smart cards, wait for BETL to introduce discounts on toll for smart card users, wait for the couple of big residential and commercial complexes to get completed at EC and a couple more to take off, and you will be asking for toll prices to be increased to discourage people from using it !!

-Srivatsava V

Naveen's picture

BETL - What is the way out ?

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According to the recent TOI report, the tollway needs about 20 lakhs each day to make ends meet. Can the elevated road be used only for buses ? If so, how can revenues be generated to meet costs ?

1) Collecting tolls from all vehicles using the surface road below will have many problems - most vehicles may not be going the full distance (of 9km from SB to EC), but might be bound for intermediate destinations, or might start from an intermediate spot to proceed to another intermediate location. Thus, there will have to be toll plazas at several intermediate locations, a practical impossibility that will also cause delays to vehicle journeys.

If too few toll plazas are opted for, there is bound to be over pricing for many users or revenue leakages (due to vehicles using part of the rd between toll plazas), or both, which again reinforces the impracticality of such an exercise.

A further point is that there is bound to be public outrage at being tolled for a facility that they do not use.

2) Can buses be made to pay tolls ? Assuming 5000 buses use the elevated road each day (ie.2500 each way), each bus will have to pay Rs.400/-.

This volume of buses is probably too high & overly optimistic, even if BMTC city buses, are included. Even if so, as SB mentions, bus stops & commuter access can be a huge problem since no such development had been planned for during construction of the viaduct. To convert the elevated rd meaningfully for city bus use, bus stops will be needed each 700-800m along the corridor. Thus, about 10 such facilities would be required on both sides (ie.20 bus bays).

It might not be possible for bus bays to be built along the viaduct without supporting pillars at the edges. If support pillars are to be built, they would be right in the middle of the road below & obstruct the road lanes. Alternates could be explored, but might involve much higher costs. In any case, investments would become even higher & correspondingly, the tolls would have to be escalated, making it even more unviable.

 

The only option seems to be for BETL to hope that there is increase in use by all types of vehicles including some high-end inter-city buses.

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