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What Type Of City Do We Want?

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Unmanageable traffic forever - Is that what we want in our City?

"Experience is the ability to recognize a mistake when you make it again"


The proponents for elevated freeways planned to be built, cutting across the city claim the following benefits:

  1. City has just 1,500 km of bus-worthy arterial /sub-arterial road network that cannot be widened;
  2. No other viable long-term alternatives. Mass rail transits (Metro phases 3 & 4) and suburban rail will have carrying capacity of only 40-50 lakhs people per day totally by 2030;
  3. BMTC that carries about 45 lakhs today, will need to carry 1.2-1.3 crore people per day in 2030 on the same roads as today. i.e. 20,000 buses would all be moving too slowly in grid-locked traffic;
  4. Elevated roads will get more people to give up private vehicles & favor public transport (i.e. buses and metro) as they can move faster in public transport;
  5. Road-over-road would shift through traffic /goods transport to elevated sections while providing dedicated bus lanes on roads below with good quality footpaths/cycle lanes to ensure buses are easily accessible and move faster.


Let us analyze these assumptions objectively:


(1) True, but this assertion raises questions that need to be asked: 

Will a mere 95km of elevated roads speed up buses on 1500km of buses on arterial /sub-arterial roads?

How will gridlocks be removed on the remaining 1405km (94%) of "bus-worthy" roads?

How can dedicated bus lanes be provided on these 1405km of bus routes, even assuming its possible to provide them below elevated routes?


(2) This is entirely wrong & an uninformed premise. Metro ridership projections from DPR estimates are as follows:

Ph-1: 16.10 lakhs (33km, no data on 9.3km ph1 extension);

Ph-2: 18.17 lakhs (Extensions of the lines in Ph-1);

Ph-2: 04.55 lakhs (RV Rd-Bommasandra line);

Ph-2: 05.58 lakhs (Gottigere-Nagawara line;

Ph-2A: 04.59 lakhs (KR Puram-Silkboard line);

Ph-2B: 01.50 lakhs (Nagawara-Airport via Yelahanka line).


Total: 50.49 lakhs (for length: 42.3+72.5+17.0+29.0 = 160.8km). No data is available on Ph3 that is likely to add about 100km more.

Going by average projected capacities as above, per km capacity is on average about 31,400 per day. The corresponding figure with actual ridership-per-km of Hong Kong metro is 27,712 (in 2017). There are systems with far higher ridership-per-km numbers (Tokyo, Cairo, Budapest, Sao paulo, Mumbai metro etc).

Assuming BMRC adds 100km in Ph-3, metro’s capacity would rise by about 31,400 x 100 = 31.4 lakhs, making it a total of about 82 lakhs.

Assuming just 70% capacity utilization, ridership would be close to 57.4 lakhs.

In addition, suburban rail may cater to about 9 lakhs (could be higher if developed well if frequencies increased, last mile accesses are sorted out etc).


Thus, rail systems can cater to about 66.4 lakhs at the end of phase-3 at just 70% utilization (Metro's phase-4 hasn't been considered above). It is abundantly clear that off-street rail systems can easily cater to over 35% of daily trips.

The target mode shares can then be as follows:

  • 32% – Metro (57.6 lakhs);
  • 05% – SubRail (09.0 lakhs); (Suburban rail may add more capacity).
  • 30% – BMTC (54.0 lakhs);
  • 15% – NMT (27.0 lakhs);
  • 15% – Private (27.0 lakhs);
  • 03% – IPT (05.4 lakhs).


Total: 180 lakhs.

Current number of private trips is on the high side (52% or 52 lakhs).


In the above assumptions:

  • BMTC's share is assumed to have increased by just 9 lakhs!
  • Private trips has drastically reduced & almost halved from 52 lakhs to 27 lakhs!
  • Metro utilization is at just 70% & Suburban Rail ridership is assumed as just 9 lakhs.
  • IPT trips are assumed to be just 5.4 lakhs (3%) though we have 1,20,000 taxis & over 70,000 auto-rickshaws on city streets as of now.


Yet, city is easily able to cater to 180 lakh trips !!


(3) BMTC does not need to carry 1.2-1.3 crore people per day by 2030, as outlined above.

As off-street rail systems (especially metro) begin to expand, BMTC's role as prime mover will begin to diminish though it will continue as the "work horse" of the transport system.

However, it may never need to have 20,000 buses. Its share as summarized above may be close to about 30% or 54 lakhs, which is a rise by 9 lakhs, or 20%.

This increase is likely to take place largely on the outskirts in new developments (the ring between ORR & NICE Rd /PRR). Many long-haul routes may be cut short or diverted to cater to feed rail systems that will start being preferred for longer trips due to time savings by exclusive track systems that have unobstructed right of ways.


(4) It is quite unbelievable that road proponents are claiming that elevated roads are going to get more people to give up private vehicles & favor public transport & street based public transport would begin to move faster.

Nowhere in the world have such experiments succeeded. In fact, road additions of any form have always resulted in unmanageable traffic increases. Cities like San Francisco, Milwaukee, New York, Portland, Toronto, Seoul etc have actually benefited by destroying roadways.

Can these road proponents quote one example of a growing city that has resorted to road expansions, especially urban expressways that have conquered congestion? Cities in Asia (Bangkok, Beijing, Delhi, Jakarta, Manila etc) have all worsened street congestion & pollution with such road expansions.


(5) Shifting traffic to elevated roads is just a wild, theoretical imagination. Besides, goods vehicles must be channeled out of the city core (on to PRR) instead of getting them to pass through city's CBDs as they add heavily to pollution.

Are dedicated bus lanes really possible on Bangalore's roads? If so, why have these road proponents not studied that aspect in detail and included bus lanes as part of their grand plans to enable buses to move faster?

Why do they claim that its possible without checking first? Just to push through these elevated roads?

As someone who had worked on BRT for Bangalore long ago, I can say with certainty that it's an extremely difficult task if not impossible, given the diffuse nature of roads with so many intersections, junctions, turn offs, variable widths & lack of enough straight sections of roads etc (barring ORR /IRR).


In summation, elevated roads need to be strongly discouraged at this stage. Further, the idea of such road expansions that facilitates car-centric development contradicts National urban Transport Policy, 2014 & Revised Master Plan, 2031. Both of these clearly state that steps must be taken to discourage mobility with private vehicles & encourage public transport.

RMP-2031 goes further & states that spends must be considered for metro /BRT /Monorails & push given for Commuter rail.


Above all, road proponents are demanding road expansion even before the city has a basic, reliable public transport system. Until a good, reliable network of public transport has not been put in place, road expansions can wait, even if they are ever required.

Singapore's road average length is just 4.8km /sqkm. It has 103 cars per thousand persons.

While Bangalore's road average length is 8.2km /sqkm. We already have 121 cars per thousand persons.

Yet, Singapore manages its roads extremely well and we have total chaos on our roads! This is because of the very large number of two-wheelers (over 50 lakhs), pedestrians, push carts etc. Two-wheeler users are most likely to switch over to metro /public transport when they are expanded /improved.


Clearly, Bangalore needs to restrict roads and traffic, not increase them with road centric projects to meet imaginary shortfall of capacity to meet demand !


Transport is unique as the only development sector that worsens as incomes rise. While sanitation, health, education and employment tend to improve through economic development, traffic congestion tends to worsen as pro-growth forces tend to demand & influence policies.


  • Transport is not a technical problem,
  • It is not an infrastructure problem,
  • It is not even a financial problem,
  • Most often, it is a political problem.


Naveen's picture

The Saga of Elevated Roads!

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