Transport and civic agencies, along with the traffic police, are determined to ensure the success of dedicated bus lanes in high-density corridors across the city.
Of the 12 tentative routes identified, a pilot project will be taken up on a stretch between Tin Factory and Central Silk Board along the Outer Ring Road (ORR) from November 1.
This decision was finalised on Wednesday after Transport Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi went on a route inspection in BMTC’s air-conditioned bus on ORR.
The zero-traffic convoy started the inspection at Tin Factory, which ended at Silk Board. Mr. Savadi was accompanied by senior officials from the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT), and the Bengaluru Traffic Police (BTP), who weighed in on possible solutions.
Past attempts to put in place dedicated bus lanes have met with failure, but officials determined to make it a success this time around as Bengaluru’s traffic congestion has reached unmanageable levels.
Recently, even the City Police Commissioner had appealed to citizens to spend time with traffic personnel managing busy junctions so that they could get an idea of bad the situation was on ground. For dedicated bus lanes to be successful, agencies need to work together.
Managing director of BMTC, C. Shikha, said that the BBMP has promised that 10 km of the 18.5 km stretch from Tin Factory to Central Silk Board, will be made ready for bus movement by November 1. Officials are working towards expanding the pilot project on the entire 18.5 km stretch by next month.
“The BBMP plans to bifurcate the stretch and install barricades to demarcate the lanes. The barricades, however, will not be rigid and will having a unique branding,” she said.
Mr. Savadi directed the BBMP, BMTC and the traffic police to build necessary bus shelters and infrastructure, analyse routes and prepare an action plan, and ensure that motorists adhere to the rules.
According to BMTC officials, the 18.5-km stretch from Tin Factory has 17-20 bus shelters. The BBMP plans to construct new shelters along the dedicated lanes for commuters. “Road space needs to be rationalised in such a way that buses get priority ‘Right of Way’ (RoW),” said the BBMP. In conjunction, the BMTC is planning to increase the frequency of buses on this route. “In addition to the 450 schedules that run along the way currently, we will add more services, both AC and non-AC,” Ms. Shika added.
Only high-passenger vehicles with a capacity of more than 20 people and and ambulances will be allowed in the dedicated bus lanes.
The traffic police will fine violators caught on the Intelligent Traffic System (ITS) and cameras equipped on the buses.
Agencies plan to expand this to other corridors after they fine-tune the system in the pilot project.
During the tour, Mr. Savadi inspected K.R. Puram Railway Station Road, B. Narayanapura, and Central Silk Board junction. En route, he also visited HSR Layout Depot and inspected the traffic and transit management centre at BTM Layout, currently under construction.
Transport expert Ashish Verma, with the IISc., underscored the importance of a holistic approach.
“We need to look at congestion as a problem of the whole network of traffic, and not just a space problem. Treating dedicated bus lanes as mainly an engineering intervention with focus mostly on right of way availability will be counterproductive as was the case in Delhi. People will not shift to public transport if the travel time changes are insignificant. This demonstration on a small stretch will not reflect reality unless we have vision and clarity to scale it up,” he said.