Lesson on Public Transport for Tier 2 Cities from Mistakes in Bengaluru – The New Indian Express
Express press service
Bengaluru woke up late realizing the importance of reliable public transport. Today, the city struggles to provide efficient public transportation infrastructure, while minimizing the use of private vehicles, for a burgeoning mobile population. The metro is functional, but late (2011). And the long-awaited Suburban Rail is still a long way from being operational. Also, last mile connectivity issues have yet to be resolved. Metro commuters easily fall back on private vehicles in a city already jam-packed with about 90 lakh registered vehicles. Experts are now trying to figure out how to prevent Karnataka’s two- and three-tier cities from following Bengaluru’s lead. Plan and implement early, so it’s easier to manage later, they suggest.
According to a March 2020 report by the Bangalore Political Action Committee (BPAC), public mobility in Bangalore is 48% and private mobility is 52%, compared to 80% for public mobility in Mumbai. This is clearly not sustainable from the perspective of a growing city. Public transport is not just an idea to ensure that an individual goes from point A to point B and vice versa. It is a concept providing people with convenient mobility access to workspaces, medical care, recreational opportunities and provides the flexibility of movement to reach intra-urban destinations with the least amount of discomfort.
Experts say a holistic approach is needed to present a seamless public transport infrastructure that can provide ease of movement within the urban center without having to rely on private vehicles. Two major benefits of having an efficient multimodal public transport system are reduced air pollution with significantly less use of private vehicles and reduced traffic congestion with greater reliance on transport systems like the metro. and buses running on clean, environmentally friendly fuel.
Officials and experts say Bengaluru’s failure is due to lack of coordination between agencies, too many ideas on the table, lack of clarity in implementation, poor choices in project execution and a lack of foresight as the city grew. This should not be replicated in Tier 2 cities,
they feel.According to a customer survey conducted by CHALO and PGA Labs, bus passengers are returning to private vehicles or other modes like car sharing due to rush hour crowding, bad buses maintained and growing dissatisfaction. The same commuters proved eager to resume public transport if reliability was guaranteed.
Recently, the Department of Urban Land Transport (DULT) announced the introduction of a “6-6-6 model”, in which within six minutes one can take public transport such as a bus or a taxi, or be able to reach the nearest public transport, or pedal to the nearest public transport. Although the idea came from experts and is part of the Urban Mobility Bill, its execution is problematic as the roads of Bengaluru are still not prepared to meet the challenge. “Tackling last-mile connectivity means introducing more buses, smaller ones and better electric vehicles. Many suggestions are made to the government, but the final implementation and approvals are very rare and delayed, which is a problem,” says a transport official.
Dilraj Alva, Social Activist and Chairman of Dakshina Kannada District Bus Operators Association, says, “If we look at the data, buses are dominating daily travel, with almost 50% market share. But, if you take the advice of passengers, most will have multiple complaints about the condition of buses, staff and frequent cancellations. Simply put, a passenger’s experience in most cities is unpleasant. People are moving to private vehicles to regulate their travel time and experience.
He says that in metropolitan cities, parking a private vehicle is a challenge and if there is a convenient public transport option, people would choose it. “We believe that one of the main reasons why more and more people are moving away from public transport is that the infrastructure – bus lines, frequency, timetables, etc., does not correspond to the evolution of the layout of the city. Technology-driven solutions in public transport systems that can link multiple modes of transport or help passengers plan their journey can significantly improve the customer experience,”
Vinay Javali, a businessman and transport expert from Hubballi, says a long-term view will certainly help promote public transport and it also requires additional investment. The Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) is a good project for a growing two-tier city like Hubballi-Dharwad, and authorities should remove bottlenecks to reduce traffic congestion at junctions. In addition, the rail metro should be planned from the beginning in Tier II cities and should connect suburban areas, nearby villages where workers stay, with industrial areas. This will reduce travel time and provide cheaper transportation, he says.
Urban transport expert Sanjeev V Dymannavar says that as cities expand, it is important to ensure early and continuous improvements, and regular investments in public transport systems will reduce congestion on the roads. To achieve this, incentives for the public to use public transport must be ensured while introducing disincentives for the use of private vehicles, such as higher parking fees. Interest-free loans can be offered to public transport companies, he says, adding that operating expenses can be reduced by reducing fuel taxes, property taxes and increasing non-fare revenues of public transport companies. .
Second, the poor integration of multimodal public transport is a reason for the failure to provide efficient public transport. “More affordable public transport and expensive private transport will encourage people to voluntarily adopt public transport. The best example is the BRTS system in Hubballi-Dharwad, which has provided very good public transport in the twin cities,” he says.
(With contributions from Bosky Khanna & S Lalitha in Bengaluru; Divya Cutinho in Mangaluru; Arunkumar Huralimath in Hubballi; Udaya Kumar BR in Hassan; Ramkrishna Badseshi in Kalaburagi; Prakash Samaga in Udupi; and G Subhash Chandra in Davangere/Chitradurga)