BMTC says no to company buses on priority lane

Many worry that once the lane is operational, rest of the road will see heavy traffic, resulting in longer commute time

October 17, 2019 01:10 am | Updated 01:10 am IST - Bengaluru

The priority lane in Bengaluru.

The priority lane in Bengaluru.

The Outer Ring Road Companies’ Association (ORRCA) has asked the authorities to allow private buses and transport vehicles on the BMTC priority bus lane from Silk Board to Baiyappanahalli. These are vehicles with a carrying capacity of over 10 passengers used by companies to provide transport to employees. The priority lane will be open to BMTC buses from November 1, though trial runs will begin on October 20.

The demand was made by the office-bearers of the association during a workshop, ‘Incentivising shift away from private transport’ conducted by B.PAC and Uber. Mr. Naveen, of ORRCA, was apprehensive about the decision to deny company transport vehicles located in tech parks and on ORR access to the bus lane. “More than 1,000 buses and 3,500 tempos ferry employees to companies on the ORR. Once the priority lane is operational for BMTC buses, there will be high density vehicle movement on other lanes. It will result in longer travel time for employees,” he said.

C. Shikha, MD, Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), defended the decision and pointed out that on the ORR itself, the city’s fleet ferries more than 2.5 lakh passengers per day. During the peak hours, on an average, 130 buses operate on the route. “Allowing private buses on it defeats the very purpose of the priority lane. We are in the process of augmenting of services during peak hours. For now, we have no proposal before us to allow private vehicles,” she said.

Revisit installation of bollards

During the interaction, members of Citizen for Bengaluru suggested that the authorities reconsider the installation of bollards to demarcate the priority lanes on the grounds that they could result in accidents or may throw traffic out of gear if a bus breaks down on priority lane.

They suggested that BMTC paint the lane instead and introduce stronger measures of enforcement including CCTVs to identify motorists violating the rules. Ms. Shikha said she would discuss the issue with the BBMP and other agencies.

Other participants reiterated that the BMTC not take up the project in haste. “This project has been on the cards since 2010. It is well-planned and we have addressed the issues of traffic at each intersection point. The outcome should not be treated as success or failure. It is a learning experience for us,” said Ms. Shikha, allaying fears that it will be scrapped if unsuccessful.

Real-time data in 15 days

Various groups such as Whitefield Rising and Electronic City Industrial Township Authority (ELCITA) who attended the workshop demanded that the BMTC provide real-time information on bus timings for the benefit passengers.

BMTC officials said this would be set up in 15 days and the public would be able to access information on apps and through other modes.

Last-mile connectivity from metro stations

Mass transit agencies have yet to successfully provide last-mile connectivity to metro commuters. Executive Director (last mile connectivity and asset management) of BMRCL Kalpana Kataria said that some of the concerns will be addressed in Phase II. These include making provisions for bus bays, and designated space for other vehicles like autos and cabs. “If BMTC operates mini-buses from the stations, it will help passengers,” she said.

BMRCL is in the process of introducing mobility cards as per the specification of fixed by Centre on National Common Mobility Card (one nation one card). The trial will start from January 20.

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