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Public Transport Buses : Do we need metro ?

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Summary:  Today we are considering other alternative like Metro, flyover etc. Article try to questions that do we need to consider alternatives ? Have we exhausted capacity of the current Public Transport Bus system and there is no chance to improve efficiency and effectiveness. 


Today all the cities are exploring options to reduce traffic congestion, jams etc. Most obvious of them are 

  1. Metro
  2. More Flyovers in other words more concrete

Both are

  • Significantly expensive
  • Time Consuming
  • Disrupting Daily Routine


Can we do anything better than this ?

Few facts/observation before exploring new solutions.

  • Currently bangalore has buses as public transport system.
  • Cars are adding most of the inefficient traffic (considering space taken per person on road).
  • People prefer cars even though they know that it is making traffic worse
  • Metro costs 11000,000,000,000 ( 11000 Cr) 

Expectation of the people

  • Reliable: Assurance that bus will come in reasonable waiting time.
  • Scalable : Adequate to number of passengers
  • Comfortable :  People 
  • Cheap : less expensive

So need from new solution is 

  • Reliable, Scalable, Comfortable and cheap for people
  • Should cost less than other projects like 11000 cr etc
  • Environment Friendly
  • Less time to complete
  • No/less disruption to daily routine


Solution Thought Process

Existing system is quite well executed with over 5000 public transport buses (PTB) covering whole city. Let us start analysing current system

  1. Are we using optimally (efficiently) ?  
  2. Is there scope to increase the capacity? 
  3. Are there no improvement left which can be done to improve the the current PTB ?
  4. Are they effective compared to other existing or proposed solution? 
  5. Cost of the maintaining and increasing system?


Lets test current system against the above tests. 

1. Optimal Usage : Current system has lot of basic deficiency. No one has clue when bus will start and when it will reach final stop. No study of flow of pattern of people movements. (They are primitive and outdated as per the current technology). So lot of chance to improve here.  

2. Capacity : On the road 5 cars == 1 bus. Looking at the current situation there is good scope of increasing most constrained resource "Road space" without constructing it.All we need to do it get 5 car users motivated to use public transport. This way we can grow number of buses for some more time. 

3. Improvement : Public transport can get a major boost if the frequency is increased at the rush hours (Road Capacity can be created see point 2).  Volvo are good initiative to get people preferring comfort. We can have scope for more Volvo. There are other possible improvement like better foothpath, good support system ( Auto etc) so that people have to do less walking etc. List is long but I think we have long way to go here as well.

4. Effectivness : Metro if developed will still depend on the feed from other vehicles. So metro is part of solution and Buses Auto, Cars are still need and hence will need space to park. Similarly, Infrastructure projects create extra capacity but there also limitations exist and if, cars keep increasing in this way it will swallow the extra capacity faster than today.

On the other hand, current system has

  • Already good Coverage.
  • Flexible to change/adapt to situation. (routes, timing can be changed easily) 
  • Not fixed like other solution (Can not move/expand easily)
  • Already experience of maintaining

Over all current system has lot of advantages on proposed new solutions.

5. Cost :  For current public transport, most of the infrastructure is present. Roads, bus stops , buses etc. They need to improved and maintained. Similarly, Metro has MetroRails, Tracks and metro Stations to be maintained. For metro whole infrastructure is to be developed and hence there are 2 costs are involved. First 11000 cr of actual project, cost of waste of public time, business etc during the construction of such project. Past experience suggests that these projects take forever to develop and once they are complete their actual cost are extremely high and usually burn significant tax payers money. 


What does it suggest ?

Above point suggests that there is lot untaped potential from current public transport system. Unless we explore all those options it is foolishness to go ahead and waste huge amount of money on the other alternatives. To encourage people to use current public transport we can

  1. Better Schedule
  2. More frequency
  3. Good Support System ( Auto should take fair fare)
  4. More ecomforts
  5. Usage of sophisticated tools to increase efficiency and Visibility

If explored and surveyed properly lot of these points  will give a much more effective, sustainable and long term solution to the problem. Even if these services needs to be subsidized they are much less in comparison to the cost of proposed alternative. 

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Srivatsava's picture

Thanks for leaving Bangalore!!

172 users have liked.


I was delighted to see from your intro that you are going to leave banglore. That helps us save 'trouble' from one person.

Before you get upset, let me apologise for the intimidating comment. I wanted to attract a few readers and hence the title :). I will be sane here-on.

Your question is "Do we need metro?". The answer is NO, if we have to consider your commute needs for tomorrow morning/evening. But thats not the intent for which Metro is to be built.

Metro is built to carry a thousand passengers every 4-5 minutes from one place. While it is true that we are 'somehow managing' to have our lives carry on, you can be sure that, given the kind of 'progress'  and the kind of influx of new guests into the city, we cant keep relying on just buses.

You are right that our bus system is not optimally used, but the efficiency gains that can be created is very minimal and not sustainable. In the last few years, our traffic movement has slowed down. Further, it will only go down.

Come Metro, you will see commuters having a good estimate of their travel time. And not just that Metro will reduce the travel time by more than half between the most important points in the city. Metro is clean, efficient and sustainable mode of transport. Let welcome it and not doubt it utility.

Unwanted rejoinder:  The biggest 'opposition' to Metro has come from Hasiru-Usiru, since a few thousand trees are being cut for Metro. Strange, the organaisation has forgotten its second name (Usiru) and is focusiing only on its first name(Hasiru).

-Srivatsava V

Vasanth's picture

Buses again gets struck in traffic

189 users have liked.

 Buses even though frequency is increased, will get struck in traffic and signals. People talk of bus actuated signal, but it works out where the buses are very less in number because city is small and population is less. If we put that in Bangalore, we have buses coming from all 4 directions and the signalling system gets confused!!.

Right of the way for the buses can be considered wherever width is there such as between Silkboard to Hebbal. Our buses are of various speed, volvos are on par with cars, but ordinary buses are slow. In a bus lane, the slow moving buses may slow down by blocking the fast moving Volvos. So, all the buses should have near pickup of Volvos. Delhi BRT hence goes for Marcopolo non a/c buses with low floor rear engine whose power is near to Volvos, but the cost is high at around 35 lakhs. My personal experience is that pickup of Suvarna buses are good, but depends upon the driver.

Also we have so many junctions and every junction has got a signal making us to wait 180 seconds. Smaller vehicles somehow peep in to cross the signal in first shot, but not the larger ones, they have to wait for the second slot.

Seeing all these, Metro is inevitable. We are not seeing the light in the tunnel yet due to poor project management by BMRCL unlike DMRCL which is always ahead of the schedule. Also lines are executed in a parallel fashion in Delhi unlike Bangalore which will see just Cricket Stadium to Byappanahalli may be by 2011.

Delhi had 1 billion metro riders so far and peak traffic included 10.5 lakh people using the Metro on the same day.

Another good alternative is the Congestion charges on important corridors for single occupancy cars thereby reducing the number of cars and forcing people to do car pooling or to take company bus or bmtc. comment guidelines

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