Bus Priority meeting report, BMTC, Dec 22

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BusPublic Transport

The BMTC meeting was to discuss about Bus Priority along the 335E/G1 route (ie. from Richmond circle to ITPL/Whitefield). In principle, BMTC is keen on this project & we were told that there were a total of five corridors that they were looking at for such bus priority routes. They also mentioned about extending this priority route between Richmond circle & Majestic via Hudson circle.

Some survey work, such as checking traffic volumes at various points along the routes would be necessary to begin the process.

There is already a DPR for a 'signal-free' corridor between Hosmat junction & Kundalahalli traffic signal, but this was prepared for faster movement for all traffic. We stressed that if such were done, the objective of a bus priority route would be compromised since private vehicles would anyway move faster than buses.

The following were present at the meeting:  Mr Pasha (MD), Mr Arun Chakravarthy (Dir), Mr Vishwanathan (CTMO), Mithila & Gowda.

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My notes from the meeting, BPS is on !

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Start

The meeting started with appreciation from BMTC (Mr Vishwanath, Mithila) of the help and support from various Praja folks to get the Bus Day started. Mr Vishwanath still remembers how Manjari came up with this concept at Mobilicity 2009 at CiSTUP.

Before we began the talk on Bus Priority, BMTC CTMO showed us some videos they took of the Bogota BRTS. Goes to show that they know and understand what BRTS is.

On to Bus Priority

Naveen and I first described to them how it is a variant of BRTS where the goal is to get Buses to "visibly" move faster than private vehicles on the road. The whole idea is to take a route, and do enough to make the buses do the route 5-10-15 minutes better than private vehicles.

Regarding BRTS on Outer Ring Road (In the works, and was brought up)

  • We told them that even with BRTS on Outer Ring Road, since the road is going to become signal free (for cars etc), private vehicles would still be "visibly" moving faster.
  • Further, the value in doing any sort of Bus Priority (whether the scaled down version, or full fledged BRTS) is best derived on a radial/narrower corrridor as compared to newer/wider and peripheral Ring Roads.

In fact, we were a bit late for the meeting as the 335E we took to get to Richmond Road spent 15-20 minutes to move from Lifestyle signal to Richmond Flyover. We mentioned that, and also shared some time observations on the 335E route. Depending on the time, Buses (along with the rest of the traffic) spend a lot of time crossing Brookfield-ITPL turn (near RMZ), Kundalahalli Signal, Marathahalli, Wind Tunnel Signal, the Lifestyle to Richmind Road stretch (3 signals there). If we could move Buses at priority on these top choke points, Buses could easily do the route 5-10 minutes faster than cars.

To kick things off, we suggested the following (need BMTC help and backing for each of these):

  1. Take some "Time to cross" recordings on all the signals/merges on G1/335E route to figure the top 6 choke points for Buses.
  2. Also take traffic density recording at these signals, that would be an input to any design ideas for moving Buses at Priority on these top-6 chokepoints
  3. Spend time with BBMP engineers and Traffic Police to discuss designs for Bus Priority at these choke points.

For #1, BMTC's GPS data (or a conductor recording manually) could give us the Bus timing. For #2, one-two people sitting next to the live video feed from Traffic Police could do all 16 signals on the route in a few days.

So, the next steps?

Crisp and simple, here they are:

  • We need to send #1 and #2 in a clear and detailed email to BMTC. That should get us started.
  • Further. we should get to talk BPS in detail on Jan 10 at the Mobilicity Workshops at CiSTUP.
  • Post Jan 10, meet with Traffic Police and BBMP Engineers along with BBMP.

That's it. We are one guys. Let us give BPS a shot. Fun little project that could change Bangalore!

Thanks BMTC

... for your time, and look fwd to your support to the project.

Richmond Rd- Vellara jn BPS

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In fact, we were a bit late for the meeting as the 335E we took to get to Richmond Road spent 15-20 minutes to move from Lifestyle signal to Richmond Flyover.

Despite all the obvious complications (extensively discussed before) in trying to get BPS on the this stretch, this is likely where the the greatest impact will be. I think we should revisit BPS options at this place and keep brainstorming even if that means two (or more) sets of suggestions.

When viewed in 'satellite' mode, it appears like the biggest choke points along the Lifestyle-Richmond Circle stretch appear to be the Hosur Rd jn (and as a result the jn east of it), and the Richmond Circle signal. Admittedly, this conclusion is based purely on one satellite image. From the same image, it also appears like between Sacred Heart Boy's School, Sacred Heart Convent and Cathedral's have entrances onto Richmond Rd (see below: please zoom in all the way).

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Here's one suggestion for BPS given (all) those assumptions:

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Create a left-aligned, combined BPS + service lane on Richmond Rd between Sacred Heart Boy's school and Vellara jn. Other than BPS buses, this service lane would only permit entry into and exit from the schools. Overhead signage might look something like this:

Adjusting the cycling of signals to accomodate this is the tricky part. This might need the addition of one more phase for traffic exiting the service lane both at Vellara Jn., and the junction just east of it. However, since this is a shared lane, this pattern should offer no obvious advantage unless a RFID-carrying BPS bus is within 'striking' distance of the intersection. Expectedly, twice a day (right before school starts and right after it ends) is going to be chaotic, and admittedly, potential solutions are few:

  • Turning off the use of that lane as a BPS option for half an hour (twice a day).
  • Ideally, requesting Sacred Heart's and Cathedral's to permit dropoff/pickup on Mother Teresa Rd. This would then enable a pure BPS-only lane for and use of a dedicated BPS signal.

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TM

Richmond Rd- Richmond Circle BPS

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Given the number of commercial establishments on the stretch west of Vellara jn, and the complexity of bus-flow patterns at Richmond Circle, BPS might be a near impossibility here. Having said that though, there might be some benefits to be gained from better traffic engineering alone. An early separation of traffic by direction might help (photo: idontspam@Flickr)...

...and the issue of criss-crossing traffic using Richmond Rd for short stretches (highlighted earlier) can be minimized by using small stretches of medians (pic below for illustrative purposes alone). This could preclude, for example, an unsafe crossing over from Rhenius St to the right-most lanes of Richmond Rd)

As for Richmond Circle itself, I'm all at sea...and find limited solace in the fact that I'm not alone in being frustrated with its design.

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TM