Operations on bus priority lane stutter on first day of trial run

Bollards installed on only 5 kilometres of 17-km route, but agencies say snags are expected and will fine tune the system by November 1

October 20, 2019 09:32 pm | Updated October 21, 2019 12:47 am IST

The BMTC started its priority lane trial run on a stretch of Outer Ring Road from Silk Board to Tin Factory on Sunday.

The BMTC started its priority lane trial run on a stretch of Outer Ring Road from Silk Board to Tin Factory on Sunday.

A few days ago, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) announced that the trial run of its ambitious bus priority lane on Outer Ring Road from Silk Board to Tin Factory would commence on Sunday (October 20). The system is expected to be formalised on November 1.

However, the reality is that the Corporation and other agencies, such as the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), still have a long way to go even with regard to the trial run.

The BBMP, which is supposed to provide civil infrastructure such as bollards and signages, has not completed the work. Of the nearly 17-km route for the pilot project, only a few stretches near Narayanapura bus stop and Marathahalli multiplex have been demarcated with bollards. Agencies will have to race against the clock to meet the November 1 deadline for regular operations on the priority lane.

Officials, however, are confident of meeting the deadline. BBMP Commissioner B.H. Anil Kumar told The Hindu that the civic body has put up bollards for a stretch of 5 kilometres. “We will complete the rest in time (November 1), if not on both sides of the road then at least on one side along the entire route. A majority of work related to lane marking, footpath improvement and installation of signboards are progressing well,” he said.

Drivers continue to use other lanes

BMTC officials said that drivers are currently being trained to use the lane. On Sunday, several buses were seen using other lanes, thus defeating the purpose of the exercise.

“On certain stretches, the BBMP has demarcated a lane for our buses. We have given instructions to our drivers to operate on those lanes,” said a BMTC official.

Jayaprakash, a BMTC driver, hailed the initiative and is looking forward to Monday when office-goers will commute to work. “The priority lane improves the efficiency of our service and will help thousands of passengers. At present, personal vehicles are using large space on roads. Providing a lane for buses will encourage people to shift to our services,” he said.

Another driver expressed worry that work is not progressing fast enough. “Hardly a few kilometres have bollards. Issues at major points, like Agara and Tin Factory, are yet to be addressed by the authorities,” said the driver.

At present, the BMTC operates 768 buses on ORR with 6,596 trips per day. During peak hours, 170 buses are operate per hour. The BMTC expects the priority lane to increase ridership by 1.5 lakh per day. It is planning to install 'stickers' on buses operating on the stretch for the benefit of passengers.

Concern over bollards

Several bollards have already been damaged. Many motorists and citizens’ groups also expressed concern that the bollards would cause accidents and pose a threat to motorists. At a recent consultation with stakeholders, they had urged agencies to reconsider bollards, and suggested demarcating roads with paint, vigilant enforcement of rules and penalties for violations.

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