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DULT/BMLTA pedestrian/parking interaction - my notes

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InfrastructurePedestrian Infrastructure

I have been tuned out of Praja recently due to heavy workload, so not sure if attendees have posted any report on this yet. But here is my quick and try take on what I saw and heard.

There were 3 presentations in all, 1 on mobility indicators, which I missed, and then 1 each on parking policy and pedestrian facilities. Let me disappoint you by saying that I won't be typing in point by point technical notes on everything we were shown. Another post here has links to the full policy text, can talk specifics later on that post.

However, what I feel like writing about first, is the main point I usually take away from the public interactions like these. In general, the quality of feedback, questions and suggestions tends to be disappointing. I risk getting tagged as carrying the "holier than thou" attitude here, but since I rarely express such disappointment in public like this, I must clarify on what I mean here.

  • Execution aspects are not questioned and quizzed as much as they should. There will be never be a unanimously acceptable, 100% popular policy. In fact, in many cases, we do not need more new policies. Any policy is only as good as the execution and enforcement system in place for it. So, ideation exercise to get a 100% perfect policy is not as much worth the time. I would rather live with a "80% there" policy, but crisp and convincing execution and enforcement mechanisms surrounding it.
  • On the same theme of more than heavy focus on ideation, a lot of suggestions mentioned tend to be of obvious variety. Alright, a lot stuff that seems obvious to us is not done right in our city. But its a little premature of us to to assume that engineers and IAS officers presiding on these events are too dumb to know the obvious stuff.
  • Some attendees tend to focus solely on the problems of their lane. While this is fair enough, everyone should speak for himself or herself, or about things they see everyday. I have been to meetings where some folks quizzed Mr Praveen Sood about specific road humps in their localities. Best use of time for such events is to talk at policy and execution level, and use problems on your lane as examples. For example, Murali talked privatization (a policy level suggestion), and then provided experience from his backyard (at Koramangala) as an example.
  • Rhetorical ways of scoring points is another common occurrence. Te be fair and even, we tend to vent our frustrations at these events, and some of us do get carried away. The fact that our city doesn't have any formal complaints systems and process does not help either.

The point is that there is no way to control such venting and getting carried away as these events are truly open in nature. But slightly better moderation, wherein questions can be collected upfront, and plain suggestions or point-scoring can be quickly acknowledged on 1 on 1 basis, and interaction time be reserved for policy level inputs or questions could help.

As for the actual content I saw in the presentations, some things that I took away were

  • Right direction of suggestions on pedestrians, but there were some examples of "in silo" thinking. For example:
    • Ideas on "reclaiming" additional road space (this would be a need at many places in Bangalore) to create pedestrian facilities weren't there
    • Pedestrian facilities better to be integrated with a standard bus stand design (extra ped amenities near them), or upcoming metro station designs, or some city-specific standard for all roads. Yes, there is talk of facilitating "lines of movements", but I didn't see clear association with modes of public transport.
  • Execution wise, seems like a good idea to pick high ped volume areas and target improved amenities for them.
  • From execution angle again, lot of talk that is empty without clear ideas on how to implement them. Things like "clear encroachment", "better enforcement" and all have to be taken with a pinch of salt.
  • Skywalks were mentioned a lot. Audience warned out clearly enough that skywalks could be a waste. We have discussed this here as well - underpasses tend be more user-friendly, plus, regular signal crossing is a good enough ped-crossing tool in most cases.
  • Essentially, it was not clear to me as to who would be the record keeper and enforcement authority for these two policies.
  • Parking policy could run into land use norm controversies. Kanishka Lahiri pointed this fact out.
  • Parking charges are a big deal, Das put up some numbers as well. How high should the charges be? At-market rate for the land being "rented" for parking use? Or higher than that to act as a dis-incentive.

Nit pick here or there, at the end of it, a beginning is a beginning, no point arguing about its perfection. Lets wait and watch how and what gets implemented out of the elaborate paperwork sitting almost ready now.

cheers,

SB aka Pranav

Comments

murali772's picture

clarification regarding my intervention

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In the first presentation on 'mobility indicators', Mr Vinobha Isaac of Wilbur Smith Associates, had gone on to give a score of some 80 for 10,000 (I couldn't quite understand this measure) to bus services in Bangalore, which he went on to state was amongst the best in the country. His presentation also had a graphic which showed almost the entire Bangalore covered by bus services, corroborating this position.

As such, during the interaction session, I directed a question at him as to whether his study covered Mangalore and Kochi, where the bus services (provided by private operators) are generally seen to be a lot more efficient, bacause of which the dependence of them is also much higher (check page 41 of this report, where the PT trips percentage for Kochi is listed at 51 - amongst the highest, whereas, for Bangalore, it is 35. Again, for comparison purposes, for Trivandrum, where the services are again the monopoly of the government, it is just 21. Mangalore is not covered in this study).

I further added that, while, as shown in his graphic, the entire city may be covered by bus services, out of the 1800 odd routes operated by BMTC, a large percentage consists of single/ double trip operations, which meet just a miniscule section of the demand.

The point I was making was that his conclusion about the Bangalore bus services being amongst the best in the country, may not be quite true (The two gentlemen from CiSTUP also pointed out this anomaly).  
 
Later, as a corollary, I went on to talk about my applying for a license to operate bus services in Koramangala, in an attempt to make the point that BMTC by itself cannot meet the demand.

When Mr Pathy and others went on to raise more questions on BMTC, the gentleman from BMLTA intervened to state that there will be another similar session on bus services (apart from I don't recall what else). Whatever, since I was responding to certain points in a presentation made at the event, I don't think my interventions were out of place, as you seem to suggest. I thought I had clarified the matter to you when you brought it up with me after the meet.  
 

Muralidhar Rao
n's picture

Thanks ...

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(at silkboard) .. for responding to my question. Was curious to know if any successful projects from other cities were shown as example to modify/emulate (did read both the reports on the site). 

Agree that it is unfortunate that the big picture is lost in the local skirmishes. Local issues are for the area corporator or the concerned engineer etc. This was a city-wide initiative and should need more technical public (professors, professionals of town planning, transportation, management types) participating. They don't find the time now but can always protest when the implementation is halfway through crying foul on cost, technical aspects, inconvenience and so on. End of rant ;-)


silkboard's picture

no murali

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Didn't really say or suggest that your intervention or question was out of tune. Talk of privatization is relevant, its a policy level thing, such things should be brought up and discussed (as I clearly wrote above).

Further, privatization angle addresses execution, which I feel never gets discussed in details that it should. Policies can and should always come from the likes of DULT and BMLTA, but they should look at fixing the ways in which they get implemented, and private party involvement is clearly one option.

Anyway.

 

murali772's picture

a second clarification

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Hi Pranav

On a re-reading of the specific para in your post, I now get the point you are making. But, since it was clubbed together in the para that began with listing the don'ts, I had misread it. I stand corrected.

Now, then, when are you joining in on the demand for private participation? Your Whitefield area is crying for good feeder services. Likewise, every other corner of the city. And left to BMTC, none of these will ever happen.

 

Muralidhar Rao
s_yajaman's picture

I will join

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when there is a proper Public Transport Regulatory Authority in place.  There are better ways to control our population :).

Look at the what the yellow board taxis have done to our city.  They are a law unto themselves. 

MERU is a very marginal improvement considering how they drive on the roads.

Srivathsa

Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

velaboy's picture

A petition would go a long way.

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The court gets the petition and decides the best course of action. You can present your arguments in court, that might help a lot.

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