Us and Them – 3

A different “Us and Them” piece this time. No photos, and a lot more chatter.

Did you follow the recent noise around Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) in Pune? Ignore the fact that they rushed to inaugurate a half ready system (they always do that, don’t they), that thing sounds like a good idea if implemented as promised. I hear Ahmedabad too is going BRT, and Delhi may join in as well.

What is Namma Bengalooru up to? Metro sounds exciting. The Volvos are definitely on, HDK again talked about getting a thousand more. But where exactly will these 1000 machines ply? Compete with our cars for the same lanes?

Agreed that most prime roads in our city don’t offer scope for further widening to accommodate dedicated bus lanes. But just imagine if that were to be possible, – Volvos flying on Airport road in a dedicated lane while private vehicles fume with envy. Won’t that be too tempting to ignore?

Understandable that many city roads don’t have the space, but how about recently laid roads, and the ones being planned – why not plan dedicated bus lanes at least on those? Look at Outer Ring Road. The left most lanes are increasingly being used for unauthorized parking. What if you ‘reclaim’ those lanes and convert them to dedicated bus lanes. If the in-progress Hosur Road expressway too gets a dedicated bus lane, it is perfectly possible to connect the two IT hubs (ITPL, Electronic City) via a Rapid Bus system.

Further, the recent focus on satellite cities is good. But I see no firm public transportation plans for ferrying people between these towns and downtown Bangalore. Why not plan Bus based systems on the upcoming radial and peripheral roads?

Back to the Airport road, actually, I don’t mind giving away two center lanes every morning and evening to Volvos and Pushpaks. Clear up that width consumed by parked cars and bikes, and make space for private vehicles. If you do good feeder routes from few places in the city to a central point (Shivaji Nagar?) from where Volvos would start, plus do dedicated bus lanes on Airport Road and all the way to ITPL area – I bet you can make a lot of guys save their bikes and cars for weekend drives alone.

Anyways. A little more work from BMTC on the lines mentioned above, and we could get our city back on track – so it seems to me. What do you say? Metro isn’t a cure all. It can only cover a few routes. We anyway need other public transport systems need to feed and supplement it, don’t we?

To save some comments, I know am not the most knowledgeable traffic guy :) I am sure regular traffic experts have done these kind of studies on Bangalore before, does anyone remember any? And any idea if this B-TRAC project already includes these types of plans for BMTC, (besides just buying buses of course) ? You never know.

PS: As per Sujeet Patwardhan, who runs this NGO called Pune’s Traffic and Transportation Forum (PTTF), BRTS in Pune would cost Rs 12.5 crores per km, compared to the Bangalore’s Metro estimated at around Rs 175 crores/km, or Metro at Delhi which they said was Rs 165 crores/km.


43 Responses

  1. Right now the Volovo buses are wasted on Bangalore roads. But having dedicated lanes is a good idea. Planners need to build new roads with this in mind.

  2. pranav,
    2 responses.

    the reason you donot hear about SWD routes is because BMTC has been on its case for a while now. Tripathi has been pushing that idea for a while. so papers have written all about it.

    BMTC IS planning a BRT on the eastern half of the ORR. (As plans stand the western half is for mono). Also they have already anounced that PRR et al will be BRT enabled.
    check out Blore’s CDP for JNNURM

    Now, recently (last week), there was a BMTC seminar on this very matter, covered by press. Apparently, NURM funds for BMTC are in a jeopardy unless DPR for BRT lanes are made. RITES’ Imtiaz Ahmed(he also looked at Mysore’s BRT) is on its case.

    The thing about BRT is that while it is cheaper, capacity is lower to other mass transport systems. Also unless service frquency is high it will not succeed.

    optimal allocation for bus lanes are median lanes.
    BRT on ORR is supposed to have a stop every 600 meters or so.
    that means every 600 meters there will be pedestrian crossings.
    this means ORR for all practical purposes has been designated as bussiness road.

  3. cost,
    metro is not an immediate traffic control investment.
    it is a very long term public transport investment. which means blore’s growth areas will be along metro lines. already madhu is thinking FAR along metro lines. :)

    i for one would like to see BMTC merged with BMRTC – (GBTA?). that way there will be a single authority that will strategize on city transport. and they must have direct lines to urban planning authorities.

    i am begining to think that CRS(rail service) is not taking off because it will be under IR. and BMTC/BMRTC will have a hard time cordinating it.

    that is why some people in the know say, sreedharan valued SG over BG for city metros. coz if metro were BG then it would be under IR and cities will have little control over it.

  4. I’d read about this a while back and downloaded a white-paper by a private firm hired by the Gujarat government on the same as well. One of the stats that I found really interesting was that 1 km of Metro cost Delhi around 165 crore while the BRTS will cost Ahmedabad and Pune around 10 crore/km.

    Check this

  5. Heard there are 12 roads identified for this widening process ? Hosur road is one among them & Airport road too..!
    Lane systems must solve many problmes over here, they can as well provide car pool lanes, when a car with single driver has to follow the general lanes while the car pooled will have a reserved one…
    Lets see the wide roads first!

  6. Thanks for all that info Tarle. BTW, same CDP doc and more are also present here on BMP website. Need time to read or browse these, will write something here or Metblogs once done.

    Merge BMRTC and BMTC into one body – I will say yes only if this is going to be a pure public body. Because monopolies are good only when they are public. However, the Bangalore CDP doesn’t suggest a merger. It talks about a separate UTA (urban Transport Authority) to help with planning and coordination across various TAs and TCs.

    Back to BRT, the point isn’t about BRT exactly as it is defined. A well designed Bus based system that is *visibly* faster than cars or bikes is all you need to convince folks to switch. You need clean and good buses (you have that with Volvo), good frequency (you almost have this today), good connections (not here today despite BMTC’s rid talk), and dedicated lanes (dont have this – but absolutely needed so that car fellows can see Volvos flying).

  7. pranav,
    a metro whizzing past lone riders in shiny armored cars will have much greater visual impact. ;)

    did you check,
    look at the file named ‘identified mono rail corridors.pdf’.

    you will see that most links within BMP limits are > 10000 trips per direction and many that are far far greater than that.

  8. Hey, no arguing against Metro. Only talking about BRT complementing it.

    Tell me one thing, why is it that Metro’s first phase itself doesn’t extend all the way up to the satellite towns? Wish if it did, like how Mumbai locals run all the way till Panvel. Because that will truly convince people or businesses to move to peripheral areas of Bangalore.

    If cost is the reason there, should do BRT on select Radial roads.

  9. Hadn’t not bothered to go through that study report zip file. I only knew this Mono Route map .

    Seems like they want to make the whole city mono-tonous – so many greens there (qualified-for-Mono routes). And blues as well. And again, nothing on satellite towns front. Perhaps this study was based on existing traffic patterns.

  10. BRT has been successful in many Latin American countries. Bogota, Columbia is one of them. Read DH story ‘He Freed a City, Gave it Life” –

    Let’s hope Pune and Ahmedabad will succeed with BRT overcoming any initial problems. Ahmedabad is likely to be in a better shape compared to Pune as the city corporation there is much stronger and the state govt has also invested a lot to improve basic infrastructure.

    The cost difference between BRT and Metro is amazing. Namma Metro will reduce traffic marginally while becoming a 10,000 cr (initial estimates) white elephant. The returns are not proportional to the investment made especially in a poor country such as ours. The ridership goals for Namma Metro were overstated and the cost overruns are certain. Same thing happened with Delhi Metro and it now stands underutilized and a burden on Delhi Govt. But at least Delhi has more space and better road network to complement the Metro system and this might help in the long run as development density along the Delhi Metro lines may go up.

    Some argue that Metros in India are a social investment. If this is the case, then there are better social causes to invest in. Our dear leaders sold Namma Metro on its glamour factor. I can’t even recall even a few honest stories in the local media about the pros and cons of such a large project. Of course the leaders, bureaucrats and contractors will richly benefit. The burden of maintaining Namma Metro will be shifted to honest tax payers for decades to come.

  11. pranav,
    those are not links were mono WILL run.
    those are links that have traffic densities between 8 to 15K passenger per hour. of these, only a few links were selected as POSSIBBLE mono lines.

    here is the selection heuristic from the report..
    • If the PHPDT is above 15000 then the links qualify for Metro system
    • If the PHPDT is between 8000 and 15000 then the links qualify for Monorail system
    • If the PHPDT is below 8000 then those links can be served by Bus transport system.

    for me take home messages were:
    1. bannerghatta line – mono corridor for theme park.
    2. other lines – INTEGRATED with metro and value addition.
    3. they seem to have kept high density eastern and northern segments, possibly open for metro.

  12. Ahmedabad BRT plan is also more comprehensive. And success here will mean a lot to cities such as Indore, Mysore etc.,
    Give Delhi sometime. Getting used to public transport is a lifestyle change. And it will take time.
    Given road network in Blore is not as good as Delhi’s what makes you think BRT in Blore will succeed as a stand alone public transit but will fail as a feeder service to Metro? Delhi was one of the first cities in India to try a BRT. It looks like that experiment was a whimper and what happened to that experiment nobody knows. No press, more alarmingly, no academic publications, given that it was IITD’s brainchild.
    Especially in Bangalore’s case cost of land acquisition for widening roads to accommodate BRT lanes are staggering. This same cost extends to Metro too. But there is a crucial difference, and that is capacity. Higher capacity also means much larger impact on the city due to a metro corridor than a BRT corridor – Urban Development, urban renewal, mass transit, pollution control, safety, psychological factors etc.
    Some technical aspects of the comparison.
    Metro multiplies capacity by 1) adding coaches to trips and 2)increasing frequencies.
    BRT cannot add capacity per trip beyond a very restricting limit. Maneuvering large buses will be a nightmare, even on the best-designed roads, forget lanes. It is also unimaginable to have a BRT bus that has the same capacity as an average metro rake.
    Also, given the sprawl in Bangalore, metro corridor will be much faster transit than BRT corridor. I don’t think even the most ardent proponent of BRT will claim 17 km transit in 30 odd minutes –even on paper.
    Even with dedicated lanes, BRT demands stops every 0.6 to 1 km AT GRADE. (Grade separation? Add Rs). Also optimal BRT designs require stops not on the left lanes but on the median (due to signaling efficiency). This means pedestrian crossings on both sides of the road every 600ms; unless there is an extensive skywalks and subway system (add Rs) to go with it. Given practical aspect of attitude towards pedestrians in India, that is dangerous.
    This will also slow down other traffic on the road, because non-bus traffic (which will not ever realistically go away) now have lower priority than buses at signals and must also wait for pedestrian traffic.
    High frequency BRT will only COMPOUND these effects, especially in Indian conditions.
    Slower speed also means, increased passenger discomfort. (Remember most passengers are standing)
    Social Investment:
    I think vision of metros for ALL major Indian cities are as fundamental as vision of bhakra nangal, ISRO, or of setting up IITs, in that it’s public infrastructure. Govt’s Education, agriculture, health interventions are also financially un rewarding but they have to be made and are made. Investment in metro to improve Urban health is just like that. Also these are very very long-term interventions. Nobody talks of economic viability of metro in cities where they have existed for a while now. Those cities have changed around metro corridors AND thrive because of it. I have not heard of ONE city in the world that has gone belly up because it invested in metros.
    Another analogy, most International airports, including BIAL, HIAL, DIAL etc., are not viable either, if only air travel revenues are considered. They all make money from non-air side assets. Delhi metro has started doing exactly this, i.e. exploiting non-travel assets and Blore metro is already planning to do exactly that.
    Finally, one simple test: The test of market. If B’lore were to call private enterprise to take over the entire public transit in B’lore, which technology do you think they would pick as the backbone of public transport?
    Glamour, politicians:
    Why do you discount glamour? Glamour- sexiness coefficient is a fact of life. Otherwise functionally, our clothes should be colourless, square cuts, taps plastic, houses and buildings boxes. That’s sufficient and if mass-produced cheaper. Tripathi-avaru is a pioneer in recognizing glamour coefficient and introducing Volvos, which I believe are a precursor to BRT in Bangalore.
    While cynicism about politicians is natural and understandable, that is not very useful in solving problems. As some anonymous guy said, ‘Those with a fondness for sausages and public policy should watch neither being made’.
    Given the population projections for B’lore and her supposed place in the roster of Indian cities I am convinced Metro ought to be the backbone of her public transport with full support of BRT, mono(especially as envisaged PP) and any other technologies that are available.

  13. Tripathi’s approach is also much more strategic, in that it will BMTC will continue to be the most sucessful Bus transport corporation in the country for a long time.

  14. Tarle, I know, all of those are “doable” or “qualified” Mono routes. The plan is to do only those 4-5 routes (BG road, Kanakpura Road, Magadi Road etc as you pointed out).

    Resident Alien, I am with Tarle on most pro metro things he says. The good thing is, our leaders did debate this enough. Media may have been critical of Deve Gowda, but he did his job of forcing us to pause and think if Metro was a good call.

    Back to Tarle again, who is pitching BRT as a competition to Metro? Not me! But you can’t do Metro on every other route. Example: You may do Old Madras Road on east side of the city, but not ITPL road and Airport-Varthur road, the other two big radial roads there. Put fast buses here, or perhaps even Mono. The point is – got to cover every major radial and ring road with quality public transport.

  15. why do you say that pranav?

    i for one would have thought that metro’s first lines would exactly have been on these and other IT corridors.
    that would have been good because already FAR in these outer areas is high. that means density.
    hopefully they intervene right now. any later and it will again be a mess.

  16. Mono Rail is what we need. Metro rail should be abandoned even now. Deve Gowda was right after all. Digging holes in our cities is bad. Bangalore is in a Earthquake zone, and with dams, and holes, we are inviting more trouble.
    Tarlesubba BMTC is making profit because all people from outside karnataka have landed here. Veena Car Pool is a good idea – all single car drivers should be taught a severe lesson, and not allowed to comment on others.

  17. Sorry Gururaj, I don’t think Deve Gowda was right. He can only get credit for initiating a Metro-Mono debate. Areas where FAR is high (meaning high population density, so little space on the ground), you can build fast mode of public transport only in pataal or aakash. And get over your outsider thing please, will you.

    Tarle, if nothing else, the routes being Metro-fied first should see tremendous residential and commercial activity – offices in central area will die to be close to a station, residences in outer areas paying premium to do the same.

    Actually, if you look at the routes, Metro is not a blindly for-IT thing. If that was the case, they would have only focussed on E-city and ITPL area. The routes say Metro is truly for all of Bangalore.

  18. gururaj, suhri, neevu haeLidahaage yellranna voddhODisi, neevu naanu,caar gaLLanna eeju koLadalli pool maaDi, airport road flyover maele 8x8ra kunte pille aaDoNa.

    rofling on ‘pataal or aakash’.
    but you get me wrong on IT corridors. They are high traffic density routes that are criminally eating up on national reserves. there is nothing in the description or makeup of an IT worker that encourages him to exclusively burn carbon. For the life of me, i could not understand why the road over road was preferred over metro on Hosur road.
    These need to be addressed at the earliest, if only to put orkut handles like ihatebangaloretraffic out of fashion.

  19. hey, now that you bring it up, me too! First thing that came to my mind when they started work on elevated Hosur Road was – why not a metro there strightaway. Imagine mono or Volvos bringing ppl from Jayanagar and Indiranagar sides to silkboard. And then ride your Metro.

    You eventually need both, good fast roads, plus public transport. The order should be public transport first, flyways later.

  20. A mass transit system was the first thing that occured to me when I heard about the elevated h/w. I had mentioned the same in your post ‘Us and them – 2’. This h/w is an absolute waste from a long term perspective. Very soon, the IT heads (IT because they made a noise about traffic jams on Hosur Road) would find a new point where they get clogged and would recommend another ele-elevated highway. Don’t understand how the Govt agreed to this project. No denying that the traffic jam on H-Road is/was unbearable. But they (IT again) should have shown some foresight while pressing for a ‘solution’ of this kind.

    Somehow, I am not convinced on the Metro Route. The Phase III onwards would have been fine to start with, but cutting across the old City today makes no sense. Surely, the connectivity between the City and the new Airport too would be a mess if a mass transit is not in place. The 8 or 12 way would not solve the problem. The initial plan of a Metro from SBC or Byyapanahalli was ideal as one could have reached the BIA in less than half an hour.

    Bangalore traffic could be discussed for days. I would also like to see the one-ways scrapped as much as possible and there should be now one-way for BMTC at all. Pushing public transport away from the public would mean more public opting to use private transport. The shifting of Mayo Hall bus stand is a classic example. Ivathu illi naaley alli…naalidhu bus standay illaa…situation.

  21. Hai Man,

    BRTS was first launched in INDORE city of India, with the aid of collector Vivek Agarwal, Pune guys just copied it later on.

    Not only that INDORE has GPS based bus system where on the bus stop you know which bus is going to come at which time.

    INDORE also has automated ticket machine system.

    INDORE bus is also coming up with smart card/credit card bus billing/passes


  22. @Tarle: I agree with many of the technical points you have about BRT and Metro. I also agree with SB that multiple forms of public transport must complement each other. There is also a need to consolidate different governing bodies to create a coherent growth plan. We have too many agencies with overlapping authority or the usual “one hand does not know what the other is doing” type situations. But, I do differ on the reasons and justifications for the Metro.

    Bangalore lacks CBD and industrial areas are scattered across the periphery. Most of the areas along the initial Metro corridor is already densely populated and any new development means properties must coalesce and strict land use or zoning laws must be implemented (ha ha!!). Since the road network is inadequate, only those living within a short distance from Metro lines will benefit the most. The city has grown in all directions requiring both radial and circular transportation efficiency. Metro will not become the backbone of the city. Compare this to Mumbai which has grown along a North-South direction making it easy to build local train and bus corridors. With inflated ridership and revenue figures, and power subsidies being asked, Namma Metro will turn out to be one big ‘glamorous’ white elephant. That does not matter to the urban elites who are pushing for the project without any caution.

    We can have endless discussions about pros and cons of Nehruvian Social Policies influenced by Soviets. Regarding “social spending”, you are wrong about financial viability of intl airports such as BIAL. BIAL has 74% stake from private players, 13% from Karnataka and 13% from Center. If it was not a financially viable project, why did all those private players such as Siemens, L&T and others sign up? As a cautious supporter of privatization, I think we are 10 years late when it comes to modernization/privatization of Delhi and Mumbai airports.

    You also ask “Finally, one simple test: The test of market. If B’lore were to call private enterprise to take over the entire public transit in B’lore, which technology do you think they would pick as the backbone of public transport?” To which I say, no self-respecting business leader will invest Rs. 10,000 cr with no prospect of breaking even in a decade or perhaps even after a generation!! No banker will even lend money. For comparison, with that kind of public money, we can provide clean drinking water to all towns and villages in the entire state, and still have enough money to improve thousands of school buildings and improve primary health care centers across the state. Such things are never glamorous enough for the elite.

    I don’t think enough meaningful and cost saving alternatives were explored. Finally, what kind of a society are we trying to build here? Do you find anything glamorous in the way our poor especially in semi-urban and rural areas are transported? I have seen cattle cars in the west that are more comfortable than the maxicabs, matadors, autos, mini-buses that stuff our people and transport them on highways. These facts are overlooked by our urban elites who are starry eyed and lack the bigger picture. I am not saying that the urban elite shouldn’t dream big, but too many elites think they are gaining first world membership when a shiny new sky scraper is built or a ‘glamorous’ Metro zips across the town. Damn the ugly and frightening realities.

    @Arun: I agree with what you say. There was more to the constant shifting of bus stand near Mayo Hall/Magrath Road. People who run the malls and high end shops nearby apparently did not want the ‘non-glamorous’ buses and the passengers to stop near their ‘glamorous’ places. I am afraid this sort of ‘class’ treatment has only begun and it will get worse.

  23. Oh sorry, on the BIAL front..

    For a horse’s mouth reference I was looking for another article in the Hindu, but this will do.

    discussion that has already been had.

  24. Who is taking most of the financial risk with BIAL? Private players right? Not so with Namma Metro. No private players there. People will have to bear the burden. The consortium that makes up BIAL has to find ways to make profits on their own. Namma Metro on the other hand will simply require the govt to subsidise, meaning govt will have to find ways to divert money away from other important causes.

  25. pranav,
    my other post is missing.

  26. Assuming you consider Bangalore as the most important EXISTING economic driver in KA, currently, the only instate hope for employable youth in KA, and of you believe that B’lore’s population is estimated to grow to levels > 10 mil very soon, here is an argument for nammgyake bengaloor metro….

    Bengaloor/KA Spandana:
    Bengaloor traffic problems have been a low hanging fruit for all and sundry to take a shot at KA in general and B’lore in particular. For these people the vision of Wodeyars, their Dewans and modern day public servants like Baliga are inconsequential. Anyway…

    First, I hate huge n-lane roads. They literally tar the city and will have huge impact on Bangalore’s green cover. They will divide the city and will be hostile to pedestrians and thus in turn encourage more individualized transport, which will again necessitate wider roads. Huge n-lane roads, a la LA, are thus not a basis for any sustainable solution at all.

    Transit and Transportation Issues:
    Having said that, there is definitely a case for OPTIMIZING utility of existing roads, through rationalized road widening, strategic traffic control and planning methods. However, even under the most optimized conditions, these will not address the congestion and transport problems fully, unless the issue of individualized transit that is rampant in Bangalore is addressed.

    This is where public transport (PubT) comes in. However, PubT needs to address at least these important issues:
    I) inherent service limitations of PubT,
    II) public perception about PubT, and
    III) Costs.

    I — By design, no public transport system can fully address the issues of a) comfort, b) convenience of point-to-point transit and c) anytime service, that private vehicles and autos provide. The only hope for public transport to tackle this issue is to 1) facilitate easy access to service, 2) provide service to critical centers, 3) provide fast transit, 4) with high capacity and 5) do these (1-4), at as high a frequency as possible.

    Providing fast transit, at high capacity and at high frequency is only possible through transit systems that have a right of way (ROW). We have already discussed that rail based ROW enabled transit systems (RRWT) can provide 2-5 and even 1. However, this comes at a cost. We have also already discussed that the much cheaper BRTS is insufficient on these counts (2-5). However, buses have high accessibility (1). And an integrated public transport system should exploit buses to provide accessibility.

    Specifically wrt 2: London, Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore are all radial cities with multiple centers, just as you have frequently said Bangalore too is. And PubT in these cities take a significant load of transit loads– thus there is nothing inherently unique and detrimental in Bangalore’s urban characteristics that should prevent a PubT to establish deep roots.

    II – Nobody uses PubT out of conviction for the greater good. Almost everybody with means uses private transportation. There is a significant section of city population that takes public transport out of necessity. Factors a-c mean, that when means improve, even this group will move to private transit. To win any significant numbers from the private transit owning other side, at the bare minimum PubT must provide, clean, comfortable and safe bodies in which PubT travel is possible apart from factors (1-5) above. This is a fact of life, not just a question of glamour, which has been proven world over not just Bangalore.

    III — Now coming to costs. We have agreed that there is parity between RRWT and BRTS as far as land acquisition costs for establishing infrastructure is concerned.

    Having acquired land, to establish necessary stationary infrastructure, BRTS is cheaper than RRWT. But we have also discussed that at grade BRTS is detrimental to easing congestion in Bangalore and that the moment you add grade separated ROW, this cost of BRTS starts rivaling that for RRWT.

    Rail based systems have high capital and maintenance costs. To be successful a comparable BRTS will also have to invest significant amount in initial investments (a large number customized, longer buses with entries on both sides, navigation technology, etc’,), not mention $$ (not Rs) needed to achieve comparable parity as far as control of various pollution and hence health indices are concerned. Plus, to transport the same number of people, BRTS requires more drivers, conductors and maintenance staff – extra labor costs. Not necessarily a bad end itself but nevertheless, self-defeating in the sense that costs incurred increase without proportionate increase in service or solution provided.

    Also you should consider fuel subsidies that Gov’t pays for private and BMTC vehicles. I could not find the exact numbers for private vehicles but from what I read, I am pretty sure it is significant enough (running in the Billions of $$, total subsidies running into a few Billions) to pay for capital costs of metros in all of India’s major cities, including Bangalore. Relaxing this subsidy will also level the playing field for public transport and ensure that an RRWT based public transport systems will at the very least recover operational and maintenance costs, if not make profits.

    All the while you have poking holes in Metro’s case. Let us for a change hear about the unexplored alternatives that you so often mention.

    Finally, just to get me some sleep :), Rhetoric Ramachandranna asks, what do you think of Gov’t investment, nay, unrequited subsidies, in IITs, IIMs, NITs, and other sundry elite educational institutes?

  27. btw subsidy numbers are per annum.

  28. We can go on debating this ad nauseam. The decision has been made. The optimist in me says hope for the best!! But only time will tell.
    Let me digress here. You asked a pertinent question about Benagalooru being the economic driver for the state. This has happened mostly due to political and bureaucratic policies and not so much due to organic development. Lopsided development is a problem not just in KA but entire nation. The choices we have are whether we want to pursue inclusive growth for long term peace and stability, or are we happy to create a few ‘islands of excellence’ and invite social and political trouble later. We will soon have to confront many questions that affect quality of life.

    – Is there a limit to the growth of the city?
    – Are there natural resource constraints? What about water? If Kaveri tribunal order is implemented in its
    current form, then we can have no more than 5 litres/person or 15 litres/person in the Kaveri basin area
    of south and west Bengalooru assuming water cannot be diverted outside the river basin. Will this lead to
    wars within?
    – Can we make tier II/III cities to be more attractive and deflect growth towards them? This will give a
    needed pause for the big cities for proper planning.
    – Can the smaller cities learn from mistakes of tier I cities?
    – Can the local bodies be strengthened and empowered to solve local problems on their own?

    The list can go on and on….The answers are hazy at this point.

  29. Lessons and hidden messages for Bangalore?

    One of the most effective traffic engineers Sam Schwartz talks about NY traffic.

    Do Bangalore’s big bosses have the vision or even the nerve to rope in an expert of his caliber to address transit issues or even formulate transit vision for Bangalore?

    (I am walking on cloud nine hearing about his ideas about n-lane roads. not bad for a mere transport enthusiast.)

    PS: RA:
    easiest, high impact, 150 crores that GoK can spend is in getting the B-M rail line double tracked. Not to mention about 300 crores will do wonders to Hubali Dharwad.

  30. pranav,
    any propsects of starting something like this for Blore?

  31. If a few of us join hands, we can start a dedicated Indian city traffic or just Bangalore traffic observation/planning blog/site. Will need 1 or 2 people to take initiative and put together like minded folks like you and me – like the few guys who lurk around on, like-minded bloggers who talk traffic and planning (I have read 3-4 folks), Ram who just started a similar thing callled

    Ram, Shastri, easydrive forum folks, if you read this, please chime in if we want to start something like that. We can start this on itself. Or a new domain.

  32. SB, I am about to setup a discussion forum on called trafficsolutions where the whole purpose was to do exactly what you propose. Now if you think it would be better we have something called bangaloretraffic or something like that, let me know, and I can set that up too. If you want certain topics to be started on the transportindia blog site, that is another way to go. As I mentioned to you earlier, I will be in Bangalore, the last week of March and plan on meeting you, so if you think other like minded folks would like to get together too, maybe we should plan that!!

    Great bloggers on your blogs Veena, Tarle, Res Alien and others.

  33. The idea would be great. But I feel let it not address Bangalore alone. Sooner or later, Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli-Dhwd and Belgaum may witness new-age contributors to their GDPs and with that comes and increase in the vehicle population. There are lot of people working towards better traffic management in these cities who would definitely participate. Currently there are talks of BRT system at Mysore and a vague reference of Sky-bus at Mangalore. A presentation on Trans-milenio was made to MATF sometime back.
    TS – thanks for those links.

  34. Agree Arun. this could be a generic cities thing, not limited to Bangalore. But let us start with one city first. I will post something here and at Meblogs to see how many folks would be interested.

    But first, got to figure what exactly this thing should be like. Or else enthu tends to fizzle out with time.

    Ram – let me think this up, give me (I hope I can say us) some time. Off the top of my head, I am thinking it to be a group blog and discussion forums rolled into one.

  35. pranav,
    saw your email. (you are one curious guy i say :))
    gathered/ing thoughts on what you said.

    conceptually, what you said is true. From that perspective it appears that a two-layer thing might be the way to go. At first view, I like your collective blog idea.
    There might certain organizational issues that are prolly are best discussed out of this format. Since, you know the guys responding, can you form a email list of the interested guys. I might have a name or two to suggest.

    Arun’s ideas: it is tempting not to see MYS/HBL etc in the game. It is very very interesting to say the least. But it could dilute focus and exceed any reasonable mandate we have, unless we distribute focus. But it might be important to consider/track these developments.

  36. Tarle, it was just a simple whois lookup to check your location. If I had gone ahead and checked on you via a contact I have at your school, that would have been curiosity :)

    On that blog/discussion thing, I will do what you suggest – send a mail to all the folks who we think would be interested. I can pull their emails from past comments here and at Bangalore Metblogs.

    I am thinking of this as a citizen’s portal sort of thing – admins keep track of all public body websites and press releases and let people know of how to provide feedback etc. May be we collect feedback and one of us regularly submit s these to those who matter. We can be the unified citizen-front to those fragmented not-so-popular public-body websites and egovernance initiatives.

    More in that upcoming email. But if you are reading this comment and like the idea or are interested in helping out, please leave some words of encouragement right here to make me/us do this sooner.

  37. Sounds alright.

  38. SB, welcome idea.. ! Keep us posted.

  39. BRTS has failed in Poona even in the trial run. Please check the net about this. You find private vehicles entering the bus lanes. It is very difficult to impose rules in India, especially Bangalore. Also, dedicated bus lane has congested the existing roads. If you have seperate auto lane and bus lane, where does private vehicles move ? Also buses have to wait in traffic signals without bypassing them.

    Metro / Mono is the only solution. Since metro is expensive and needs more space resulting in destruction of properties, monorail to some extent will be the best suited along with the identified metro corridor. Metro should be planned in few more routes.

    Bus companies and manufacturers as well as few universities always push for BRTS comparing BRTS implementation in Curitiba and Bogata. But, people over there are highly systematic and never use dedicated bus lanes as well as the roads are planned. Interet can be searched for problems faced by BRTS system around the world. ELRTS would also be implemented, but is far more expensive and heavy compared to monorail.

    Around the world, debate between Metro / Mono / BRTS / Light Rail System is going on. There is no comments about Metro except for the capital involved in it and properties demolished. But, with regard to mono / BRTS / LRTS there is always a debate. If government is going for mono people will say go for BRTS (Chennai is the best example). If BRTS is planned, people will ask for mono and so on. Atleast in Bangalore, it is scientifically planned and designed as compared to Chennai where if one party says monorail, other says BRTS.


  40. Continuing on my previous update, Monorail companies will implement on BOOT basis and government need not have to invest anything. But, BOOT has not been successful in India especially in Karnataka. NICE corridor is the best example. If politicians stop thinking as politicians and think rationally, and allow BOOT (build own operate and transfer), there will be less infrastructure problems in Karnataka.

    Monorail without extra cost being built on BOOT would be best along with Metro. Only in newly being planned localities, BRTS can be implemented without extra cost. BRTS is best for Greater Bangalore being planned, not within the city.

  41. Vasanth,
    agree with you on BRTS. The major BRTS corridors in Curitiba are really wide. when realistically private vehicles are not going to go out of circulation, successful BRTS would require large AND city wide property acquisition also.

    On the other point about Greater Bangalore. I don’t see any sort of planning in the Greater Bangalore area either. is’nt development in GB pretty adhoc?
    take whitefield for example.there is nobody with infrastructure plan for whitefield. basically, private developers buy a chunk of land and independently put structures on it. thats it.

    Connectivity still depends on existing village/town roads and bylanes. There are plans as to which areas are developable and which are not, but within the developable areas there are no plans about where a road is going to be. for example, in whitefield all these new buildings are sustained by old road alignments. which in many cases have poor geometry as far as connectivity goes. forget areas marked for about public transit, bus stations, rail stations.

    BIAAPA seems to be the only exception in GB.

  42. IMHO

    a. The Bangalore Metro needs to be self sustaining without needing further subsidies. However the initial investment has to come in from the government. That is the purpose of having a government and one that collects a lot of taxes. Such projects have a life cycle of 20-25 years and the payback should be calculated over that sort of period

    b. The people of Bangalore pay a heck of a lot of taxes to the GoK and the GoI. It is only fair that they get back something in return. the Metro is long long overdue. The buses can then complement the MRT routes and go deeper into residential areas

    c. I live in Singapore and the government/autocracy here has implemented an excellent system

  43. Pressed submit comment by mistake. Completing the blog here :)

    1. Make cars super expensive. There is a fee (COE) to be paid to just get the right to own a car. It used to be as high as SGD70000 about 6-7 years back. Now it is down to SGD12000. This works on the basis of demand and supply. Fixed number of cars enter the roads each year. Based on the demand for cars, the COE goes up or down.

    2. The MRT (Metro) runs East-West and North South. The North-South line is like a mountain – goes north first and the loops back southwards, intersecting the EW line at 2 places. there is now a driverless North-East line and they are in the process of building a circular line. At the end of it all, about70% of the population will be within 1 km of an MRT station. Buses are excellent and cheap and usually branch out from an MRT station covering its hinterland.

    3. The maximum fare on the MRT is about SGD$1.80 – same on buses. On a PPP basis this works out to Rs.18.

    4. The idea is to discourage car ownership. This is the only sustainable way to keep traffic down.

    5. In Bangalore, we have opened a can of worms, by allowing cars and bikes in the millions. No politician in his senses will try and copy the Singapore autocracy.

    6. The only way out is to provide a service that people will want to use. the Metro can free up BMTC to serve areas that are currently uncovered with the same no. of buses.

    I am willing to join hands to help sort out the mess in whatever limited way I can.

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