Traffic growth hits city bus services hard

‘Increased congestion has brought down the speed of BMTC buses to 12 km an hour, and it drops further in peak hours’

Uncontrolled growth of vehicular traffic in the city — which has crossed 76 lakh — has hit the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) bus services. Data shows that the distance covered by each bus every day has dropped from 221 km in 2012–13 to 202 km as of August 2018. This declining trend of city bus service utilisation will continue unless the buses are prioritised and the number of private vehicles are curbed, said corporation officials.

The underutilisation of its fleet has resulted in a huge revenue loss for the corporation, the burden of which will be borne by passengers should the Chief Minister agree on a bus fare hike.

“Our buses are literally crawling on K.R. Puram–Whitefield Road stretch, Mysuru Road, and other roads because of increased congestion,” said BMTC managing director V. Ponnuraj.

Dedicated lanes

“We have been advocating for dedicated lanes for city buses to increase the efficiency of services. Each bus in the fleet is operated in two shifts that comes to roughly around 16 hours a day. Exponential increase in the traffic on the roads has brought down the speed to 12 km an hour and it drops further in peak hours,” he said.

Mr. Ponnuraj feels that introducing dedicated lanes for buses is no longer a luxury but a necessity. “It will automatically ensure that buses move faster than cars. People will then definitely shift to public transport.”

This is not the first time that the BMTC has asked for dedicated lanes. In the past, attempts were made to introduce the system, but it never took off. Two years ago, the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) had identified 10 to 12 roads in the city where the introduction of dedicated lanes would be feasible, but it was not taken forward. The BMTC was also favouring collection of congestion fees from private cars entering the central business district during peak hours as a way to reduce congestion, and restrictions on registration of private vehicles.

Cancelled trips soar from 4.8% to 14.9%

Traffic congestion has also resulted in more trips of BMTC buses being cancelled as drivers are unable to complete their routes within the stipulated time. In 2013–14, only 4.8% of trips were cancelled, but 2017–18 data shows that it has increased to 14.9%. “With more vehicles on the road, especially during peak hours, drivers are finding it difficult to complete their trips. It now takes as long as one hour to cover 7 to 8 km, whereas a couple of years ago, 15 to 20 km could have been covered in an hour,” said an official, and added that ongoing Namma Metro work in several parts of the city had also exacerbated the problem, though it was a short-term issue.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 10:18:39 PM |

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