Bangalore has been one of the fastest growing cities in India. With a strong economy, especially in the IT and Biotech sectors, good climate and relatively lower cost of living compared to other metros, Bangalore in a prime destination for migration both in Karnataka and across the country. This rapid growth – which is expected to continue – means that the urban transport and urban development challenges of the cities are and will continue to become more acute.
This is a map of In 2001, core city was the densest part of the Bangalore
By 2011, however, the peripheral areas hold the majority of the cities population. This is because the outer lying areas have witnessed the greatest growth in population in the last decade. And the form of this growth – in large residential townships and similar housing developments – also has implications on the ability to provide high quality public transport. This form of urban growth highly promotes the use of cars and private vehicles
Like many cities in India, Transport in Bangalore faces one major crisis: the incredible growth in ownership of private vehicles, particularly two-wheelers. Again, like many cities in India, this tremendous growth in vehicle ownership has placed incredible strain on the city’s transport systems. Traffic jams, congestion, air pollution and road accidents have become a part of daily life
As a result of this tremendous growth in private vehicles, scenes like this are very common in Bangalore. The city has become notorious for traffic jams, even when compared to other big Indian cities which have their own traffic problems.
Despite the pressures of private vehicle ownership, Bangalore enjoys a high share of trips in public transport. The challenge is to maintain and grow this share
A large metro network is currently being planned for the city. Phase 1 is under construction, and Phase 2 has been recently sanctioned. Put together these will cover a network of 115km. While Phase 1 (42km) is expected to be complete by 2015, Phase 2 will take another 5-6 years.
Currently 2 stretches of Phase 1 are operational – a 7km stretch from MG Road to Baiyapanahalli and a 10 km stretch from Yeshwanthpur to Peenya which was recently inaugurated by the Chief Minister
While the completion of the Namma Metro is awaited, Bangalore is mainly a bus city. Public Transport in the city is dominated by the Bangalore Metropolitant Transport Corporation. Carrying nearly 5 million passengers a day, it is one of the largest and most successful Public Transport providers in the country. It also carries a majority – 52% - of all motorised trips in the city. Growing and improving the quality of BMTC will be the key strategy for further improving the mode share of Public Transport in Bangalore
Several major reforms are underway to improve the quality of BMTC Bus Services. Chief among these is the implementation of the BIG Bus Network. The BIG Bus Network is an ambitious attempt to reorganise the underlying network logic of bus services in Bangalore, moving from the present inefficient destination oriented model to a direction oriented model, which will provide simpler and higher quality services for city residents.
The implementation of the BIG Bus Network has already started, with a significant number of new, high quality buses now on the road.
In addition to the BIG Bus Network, BMTC is also implementing feeder services. These Feeder Services will connect villages and other destinations that lie off the main road to the nearest arterial road. In other words, they will connect destinations to the BIG Bus Network. This network of short feeder routes will be able to provide high frequency connections to those in peripheral areas.
The feeder services are also under implementation, with a new fleet of uniquely branded MIDI buses being used.
These services reforms by BMTC have already been implemented in 3 out of 12 major arterial corridors in the city, and BMTC is actively working to expand this city wide. Altogether the current implemented system is improving the public transport experience for 1,50,000 people daily. When expanded city wide it is expected to positively impact 2.5 million people every day.
BMTC is also undertaking a variety of additional reforms, to improve its ability to provide information for users, as well as leveraging IT technologies to improve its internal functioning.
Besides motorised public transport, Bangalore is also undertaking initiatives to improve the quality of Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) environments. These aim to promote walking and cycling for short to medium range travel, especially within neighbourhood. DULT has been taking the lead in developing these initiatives, through the planning and implementation of neighbourhood level plans to improve NMT Infrastructure
At the same time, there continues to be a major focus on improving road infrastructure
The chief requirement of the hour is to increase the pace of supply of mass transport in Bangalore. While the Namma Metro is a very welcome investment for Bangalore, the scale and complexity of Metro projects means that the pace of construction will necessary be a bit slow. This is to be expected. But at the same time, the realisation of the rate of growth of the city means that Mass Transit cannot come fast enough. So while the Metro is a good investment for the future, we must also look at mass transit technologies that can be implemented much faster.
Bus Rapid Transit, for example, is one of these alternative mass transit technologies. The experience of Ahmedabad has shown that a large and complete BRT network can be implemented in a relatively short period of time. Bangalore should also take advantage of this. We should stop thinking of Metro vs BRT as an either/or problem, and realise that they can be complementary systems. For example, BRT can be implemented on heavy public transport corridors that are not currently part of the planned Metro system. Similarly, BRT can be implemented as a means to integrate the different lines of the Metro system. I know DULT is currently working on a BRT proposal for the Outer Ring Road in Bangalore, and this should be supported.
Beyond just increasing the supply of mass transit, and improving the quality of other existing systems like the city bus service, another essential requirement is multimodal integration. This means that all the different transport systems must be integrated with each other, both physically and in terms of services. The system must be such that from the individual users perspective, it all appears as one seamless system, one integrated whole. This picture is an example of an integrated transport hub, planned for San Francisco. Similar integrated transport hubs are needed for Bangalore. While one is currently under construction at Kempegowda Bus Stand, the quantum of such hubs needs to be significantly expanded. This is especially important given the huge investments being made in the Metro system.
Apart from just physical integration of services, fare integration is also a must. This is the T-Money card from Seoul, South Korea, which can be used not just for Metro and Bus Services, but also for Taxis, and even shopping at convenience stores and vending machines. In Bangalore, BMTC and Namma Metro, in partnership with DULT, are also working towards a similar system to enable convenient transfers between the two systems. In the Indian context it might be interesting to see if such a system can be extended to Rickshaws and Taxis as well.
Improving Pedestrian environments is also a must. This is the most basic, and yet the most ignored aspect of the urban transport environment in India. From the perspective of safety, comfort and even equity, investing in improved pedestrian infrastructure is perhaps the most efficient use of public money.
In addition to pedestrian environments, we should also promote cycling. Just a few decades ago, transport in Indian cities was dominated by the humble cycle. We should aim to go back to this situation, especially in a city like Bangalore that is so suited for cycling – the climate is mild, the terrain is generally flat, there is more than adequate tree cover and, most importantly, the majority of trip lengths are relatively short. While DULT has been doing some good work in cycle infrastructure like cycle tracks, we should also look into Public Bicycle Sharing schemes, which many cities around the world – especially in China – has used to dramatically increase the mode share of cycling.
Finally, all of these improvements in Mass Transit, Public Transport and Non-Motorised Transport must be coupled with realistic yet effective means to control the growth of private vehicle usage. The underlying demand for private vehicle use is so huge in Indian cities, that we will not be able to achieve any sustainable future unless we find some effective means of controlling their growth. The aim here is not to penalise private transport use – rather it is to price private transport use effectively, so as to level the playing field between it and other modes. Some cities, for example, have used congestion pricing to limit the entry of vehicles to the core city, with the aim of moving these users to public transport. At the same time, the revenue from congestion pricing is used to improve the quality of Public Transport. While this concept may be a few years away in Indian cities, we should start looking into it in earnest right now.
And in Indian cities especially, solving the parking problem is the most important thing. Free on-street parking is a huge subsidy to private transport users. It also drastically increases space requirements in our cities, where roads are already congested and suffering from a space shortage. There is a lot of demand in Bangalore, as in other Indian cities, to increases the quantity of parking. But we should realise that increasing the quantity of parking only promotes the use of private vehicles, which leads to a vicious circle of even more demand for parking. Instead we should focus on developing a rational and scientific method for paid parking, which will create the correct system of incentives.
An Integrated Transport Systems Approach to Solving Bangalore's Mobility Problems
An Integrated Transport
Systems Approach to
PN Sreenivasachary, IAS
Principal Secretary - Transport Department
Government of Karnataka
March 10, 2014
• Peripheral Ring Road
• Elevated corridors in the city (Hebbal – Airport, Chalukya Circle –
• Grade separation (Outer Ring Road, Arterial Roads)
• There are significant initiatives underway to improve the scale and
quality of Public Transport
• Non-Motorised Transport is also receiving attention – although this
needs to be intensified
• However, there also continues to be a heavy emphasis on road
infrastructure, especially elevated corridors and grade separators
in the city centre
What does Bangalore need
to ensure a
Sustainable Transport Future?
Increasing the supply of Mass
Apr 2007 –
Only 16 Km
Increasing the supply of Mass
Oct 2007 –
Summary: What Bangalore Needs
• A strong focus on improving the scale and quality of public
• Improving non-motorised transport environments
• Ensuring that policies, pricing and investments do not needlessly
promote private vehicle use
• Ensuring city planning and urban development also promotes
sustainable transport use