In a city that has now become infamous for traffic congestions — currently estimated to cause losses of around ₹3,700 crore annually in terms of man-hours wasted — mobility and transport have become the focus. While citizens and activists have been urging the government to develop a strong public transport system, the thrust has always been on infrastructure for private vehicles.
The mobility strategy for the Draft Revised Master Plan – 2031, published on Saturday by Bangalore Development Authority, attempts to strike a balance.
It proposes more infrastructure projects such as ring roads, and also various mass transit systems on all ring roads and major arterial roads, apart from a commuter rail service.
The report suggests multiple options for mass transit — from monorail and light rail to bus rapid transit system.
Significantly, there is no mention of the much opposed network of elevated corridors cutting across the city or any new flyover.
Lack of details
However, the strategy falls short on many counts, mainly on details of the impact of the proposals made, according to urban commute experts. One major criticism is that apart from some focus on public transport, the draft plan looks at increasing vehicular carrying capacity by providing more infrastructure rather than containing traffic volume.
“Demand management strategies such as parking fee and corridor pricing find only a fleeting mention. Increasing capacity is a very conventional approach which may not be sustainable in the long run,” said Ashish Verma, associate faculty, CiStup, IISc.
Urban mobility expert Pawan Mulukutla, senior manager, WRI India, said while the focus on public transport and transit-oriented development were its strong points, buses have been neglected in the draft plan. Around 15,000 buses are needed today, not in 2031, he argued.
‘“There is little focus on multimodal transit integration that can be achieved with a unified metropolitan transportation authority and a common ticketing system, which find no mention,” said Mr. Mulukutla.
The BDA has neither integrated the impact of land use on mobility nor has it assessed the impact of mobility patterns on climate and air quality in 2031.
‘“Land use has an impact on trips made — both in terms of the number and the length. It will also impact the choice of mode of transport. But that correlation has not been made at all, rendering it ineffective to predict the scenarios at a later date,” argued Dr. Verma. The strategy also does not make any assessment of accessibility and viability of transport modes for the economically weaker sections of society, even as the city has seen multiple protests over the fares of both BMTC and metro being unviable.
“The basis for the transport strategy should be about quality of life described in terms of desired pollution levels,” said Srinivas Alavilli of Citizens for Bengaluru.