Bangalore - Metro is not the solution


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Bangalore mass transport system. The bus is a better solution than the Metro.

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  • Well analyzed article, added to that is the cost of destruction of a lot of properties like apartments, commercial units and the compensation for the same for the affected people along the metro alignment.

    What Bangalore needs is
    a) Very efficient town planning
    b) A complete overhaul of BMTC and come away from market, majestic mentality, more grid routes and mini buses for last mile, better customer friendly measures and so on
    c) Regulate parking and make it an expensive affair to own cars and readjust the taxes and so public transport becomes cheaper
    d) More commuter rails on the existing railway lines and have shuttle buses to say ITPL form whitefield and have most express trains stop at Whitefield (for example).
    e) Have educational institutions, govt offices work 5 day week
    f) Regulate auto licenses in a better way
    d) Build good roads without potholes, severe punishment for traffic offenders, remove those unscientific cuts in medians, bus stops etc.

    These above steps can work for Bangalore's traffic, a metro cannot improve any traffic situation, it is a fancy creation for some who live in an illusionary world assuming Bangalore is another singapore.

    These above steps can e
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  • Nicely written article but poor and exaggerated comparision. Metro and bus service should be considered as part of the local travel eco system. None of them is designed to or is efficient enough to replace each other.
    I stay at a prime location in Bangalore and none my family members are able to use Bus service because of 2 primary reason.
    1. All 3 of us need to change '3' buses to reach our offices. Every bus stops at some flyover and the next one is available only after a walk of about a 1 km.
    2. There are Volvo buses, however at time we have to wait for a long time to get one. There other buses have high frequecy but it is not easy to stand/sit on crowded bus full of labours/construnction workers.

    I understand the good intention behind this article but there are many practical issue which the author couldn't observe and hence there is a single sided comparision.
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  • BRT will not be a successful intervention, for density and traffic of Indian metros, as seen in Delhi BRT example. BRT works fine when it is designed with master plan of the city, example- Bogota in Brazil.
    As for the metro, the linear nature of it (which forms parts of your criticism) can be used to make highly efficient (in terms of area) pockets of office and shopping districts. Another point is that london metro was not made in a day. It will cater to larger parts of city after 2- 3 phases.
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  • Great and excellent article , i swear ... Sir/Madam, It is an eyeopener truly. I have visited the Paris , Italian and the German Metro n/w that are a class apart and I anticipated that Bangalore might go that way . But truly speaking, Your analysis seems to tilt my thoughts to a better Bus system. Of course, If I get a volvo daily, I would stop driving my car .. Thats the thought I have. but I still hope that the Bangalore Metro results in atleast decongesting s amjor part of the traffic..
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  • Thank you for sharing this great source of information...Regards
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Bangalore - Metro is not the solution

  1. 1. Yaara Metro ? Namma Metro - the plan and what we can expect The plan What we can expect  Planned for completion in 2011.  Will have 2 lines – East-West and North- South- totalling 33 km., with 35 stations.  27 km. will be above ground, 6 km. underground.  Cost Rs. 6400 Cr. - Rs. 150 Cr./km. for the above ground, Rs. 300 Cr./km. for the underground portions.  Planned to carry 10 Lakh people a day.  Actual completion in 2012 assuming inevitable time escalation.  Cost Rs. 12000 Cr. assuming inevitable cost escalation (already escalated to Rs. 9000 Cr.)  Will carry 5 Lakh people a day, going by Delhi and Kolkata metro's ratio of planned vs. actual traffic. Bangalore is waiting for the Metro desperately, expecting it to be the solution to all its transport problems. The Metro is considered to be a 'good idea' because someone in government has seen it working beautifully in some city in a developed country – maybe London, Paris, New York, Madrid or Tokyo – and thought it can be transplanted to Bangalore. We already have a bus system that we think is bad. It however serves 50 % of the city's population very well and is profitable. The BMTC has 5000 buses and carries 37 Lakh people daily. That's 0.2 % of the city's vehicle population carrying 50 % of the human population. Let's do a quick analysis of the possible benefits from the Metro, compare it with Metro systems in other cities, and compare it with the other mass transport option – a bus system. Coverage Bangalore and London have almost the same population. Greater Bangalore has an area of 741 sq. km. and a population of 72 Lakh. In 2012 it will be 1 Cr. The Greater London Urban Area has a population of 75 Lakh in an area of 1500 The London Underground extends over 400 km., with 268 stations. Bangalore's Metro will extend over 33 km., with 35 stations. We will have 8 % of London's coverage, 5 years from now, and think it's going to solve our problem. BMTC covers the whole of the area under the Corporation.
  2. 2. Bangalore London Paris Density of coverage of Metros in various cities. Accessibility The Metro will have 2 lines, one going East-West and the other going North-South. Unless you happen to live within 1 km. of a Metro line, you will have to take a bus to the nearest station, then take a bus again at the destination station. Poor accessibility is why the metros in Delhi and Koltaka carry less than 50 % of the people that they were designed for, and the bus systems in Bangkok and Singapore carry more people than the metros. Bangkok subway carries 2 Lakh passengers a day, while the bus system carries 50 Lakh passengers a day. Singapore Metro carries 12 Lakh passengers a day, while buses carry 30 Lakh passengers a day. Bangalore Metro's is planned to carry 10 Lakh passengers a day, but will most likely carry around 5 Lakh, going by Delhi and Kolkata's figures. BMTC's buses already cover the whole city, and everyone in the city probably lives within 1 km. of a bus stop. The BMTC is planning to reduce this distance to 0.5 km.
  3. 3. 1 km. is the maximum distance that people will be willing to walk to / from the Metro. This means you can walk to a Metro station only if you live within the red bands in the picture. Anyone living outside the bands will have to cover the extra distance by some other means of transport – car, 2-wheeler, bicycle or bus. The further away you live from the centre of the city, the longer you have travel to the nearest station. The longest distance will be approx. 6 km., for example if you live midway between the RV Road and Byappanahalli stations.
  4. 4. Commute time The Metro's average speed is 32 kmph. The average is much less than the maximum of 80 kmph. because of stops at stations and acceleration and deceleration between them. Yeshwantpur to Jayanagar will take 28 minutes, Byappanahalli to Mysore Rd. 33 minutes. Your total commute time does not just depend on the speed of the train. It is the door-to-door time, from your starting point to your destination. The last mile connectivity is therefore extremely important, and the last mile can often take more time than the travel between stations. Let's say the nearest Metro station is 4 km. from your home, 3 km. from your office. You take a bike or car, park it at the station, wait 5 minutes for the train, take the Metro 12 km., then take a bus to the office. 7 km. by bike + bus will take you 40 minutes (average speed on the road is now 15 kmph., will be 10 kmph by 2011). Total 69 minutes. The further away you are from the centre of the city, the longer your last mile commute. If there is widespread usage of buses and hence far less private vehicles, average speed on the road will be approx. 30 kmph. This has been the experience in cities worldwide with extensive bus systems, like Curitiba, Brazil. The nearest bus stop is typically 1 km. from any place is the city now (the BMTC is planning to reduce this to 0.5 km.). If you walk to and from the stops, it's 20 minutes for the walking, 5 minutes waiting for the bus, 24 minutes on the bus. Total 49 minutes. Cost The elevated sections of Bangalore's Metro will cost Rs. 160 Cr. per km, while the underground sections will cost Rs. 300 Cr. per km. To build a network equivalent to London's, it is going to cost Bangalore Rs. 100,000 Cr. assuming an average cost of Rs. 300 Cr. per km. A really good bus system might involve buying 7000 more buses and improving bus shelters, signage, etc. This would cost about Rs. 2500 Cr. and take 1 year. City-wide coverage at a fraction of the Metro's cost ! Indore's BRT is expected to cost Rs. 870 Cr. for 120 km., about Rs. 7 Cr. / km., less than 5 % of Delhi Metro's cost.
  5. 5. Time to build London's underground started operation in 1863, 145 years ago. It has evolved over the years into what it is now. It is going to take Bangalore 50 years to build a network that is equivalent to London's, assuming that we build 40 km. every 5 years. Here's when the underground in other cities started operation: New York - 1904 Paris - 1900 Madrid - 1919 The bus system can be improved to handle the whole city efficiently in just 1 or 2 years. City-wide coverage in 1/50th the time of the Metro. Bogota's bus system took 1.5 years to complete. Economic viability Mr. Chaturvedi, Chief Operations Manager, Kolkata Metro Railway, said this in 2005: “Where the gross annual income of the Metro is roughly Rs.48 crores, its maintenance cost is a whopping Rs.125 crores. The Metro was designed to decongest the city's roads. I am afraid it has not been able to do that. Even during peak periods, the capacity utilisation of the trains has been around 70 per cent, and only 40 per cent in the early mornings. Unfortunately for the Metro, it has to compete with cheaper modes of public transport such as buses and trams.“ A commonly repeated claim is that Delhi Metro is one of the handful of profitable metro systems in the world. In 2006-7, Delhi Metro's earnings were Rs. 220 Cr. from ticket sales and advertisement on trains, Rs. 251 Cr. from sale and renting of land. This means less than half its revenues came from transport operations. The metro gets subsidized or free land, gets funding at low interest rates from the government (meaning us, the taxpayers), and then makes money mainly from property development. We, the tax payers, will end up subsidizing the Metro in various ways on a continuous basis. Since a bus system costs between 5 and 10 % of a metro system, a reasonably well run bus system will be profitable on ticket sales alone, instead of depending on selling real estate. The BMTC now is extremely profitable.
  6. 6. Environmental cost MG Road was one of Bangalore's showpieces - gently sloping down from the Kasturba Road end, row of shops and restaurants on one side, bouganvilla border on the other side with a tree-covered walkway beyond. This is going to be replaced by tons of concrete. A substantial part of Lal Bagh is going to be eaten up for a station. Nanda Theatre road at 2.5 km. is the longest tree-covered boulevard in India. The Metro is going to go down the middle of this road. The huge, beautiful trees on both sides of the road are going to be trimmed to 50 % of their coverage area, which means they will fall down due to gravity shortly thereafter. These are not mentioned in Namma Metro's Environmetal Impact Report. The report says 412 trees will be cut in total, a serious under-estimate. Scores of homes and businesses are going to be destroyed. Most metro systems in the world are underground to prevent this kind of destruction. In our Metro, however, 27 km. of the tracks are going to be above ground and 6 km. underground. If we adopt the same ratio in future for the remaining 400 km., virtually every street and locality is going to be just a mass of concrete. Minimal environmental damage. The current road network is enough to handle the additional bus numbers. Remember, we are talking of buses instead of private vehicles. With some sensible legislation and planning to promote public transport and discourage private transport, we can reduce the number of vehicles to 6 Lakhs instead of the current 32 Lakhs. This would mean a drastic reduction in air pollution too. MG Rd., 2007 MG Rd., 2001 – artist's impression. Courtesy – Deccan Herald
  7. 7. Flexibility A city is dynamic. Population densities can shift as the economics of the city change. The Metro cannot be rerouted once it is built. Numerous stations in the London underground are not used any longer because lines have been rerouted or they are too infrequently used to to justify keeping them open. A bus system can grow and change with the city. The bus system adapts itself to the city as it evolves, while with the Metro it is the reverse - the city will have to adapt itself to the Metro. One of 42 undergound stations closed in London, because of changes in the city. In sum  The Metro will be ready 3 years from now.  Traffic congestion will remain. The traffic population in 2011 will be 50 % more than what it is now.  Commute time will not be reduced for most residents of Bangalore. Commuting will be an even worse nightmare, maybe taking twice as long as it does now, because the number of cars and 2-wheelers will have hugely increased.  The city’s aesthetics will be largely ruined. Some of the city's best landmarks are going to vanish.  Scores of businesses and homes are going to be destroyed.  Air pollution will be far worse than it is now.  While the Metro is getting built, some of the key roads are going to be blocked.  To expand the Metro to an ideal 400 km., there will be continuous construction for the next 50 years.  Many (most?) of us will suffer the construction, but will not be alive to see its final fruit.  All this to carry 5 Lakh passengers, 4 % of the population of Greater Bangalore in 2011. Shouldn't we be thinking of a better option? The final verdict on the Delhi Metro today is : “It's beautiful, very clean, just like the metros abroad”. Nobody says ”It has reduced the traffic, reduced pollution, reduced commute time and cost for the WHOLE of Delhi.”
  8. 8. Delhi's traffic congestion remains, its pollution levels are increasing, the government is trying out alternatives like the BRT (Bus Rapid Transport) system. Trains can be the most efficient way of carrying people around, in terms of space usage, pollution and cost. However, there are trains and trains, and the big questions are: 1. Can we afford a Metro ? 2. Is it too late to think of a train system now – should we have done this 100 years ago, like London or Paris ? 3. Is the over-ground system going to destroy the city, should it be underground instead ? 4. Why do richer countries than India think the Metro is unaffordable and opt for bus systems instead? 5. There are close to 100 cities worldwide that have implemented or are implementing bus based systems. 6. Why aren't we thinking holistically of a transport system that is a mix of vehicles instead of just the Metro, with the rest as an afterthought ? Metro as 'A system' meshing with the rest, rather than 'THE system' ? Balancing the pros and the cons, it might even be better to scrap the Metro and get a good bus system instead. Your response is most probably going to be : "Oh, the arguments are all very convincing, but we have already spent so much money on the Metro and done so much construction. How can we scrap it all now?". To which my reply is this. Let's say your doctor tells you today that your lifestyle for the past 20 years was a mistake, has resulted in high cholesterol, sugar and hypertension, and will surely result in your early death unless you change it immediately. Which of these would you do? 1. Think that changing your lifestyle now is too much of a disruption, and decide to go on as before. 2. Realize that what you have been doing is wrong, decide to scrap the old lifestyle to avoid destroying yourself. Let's apply the same decision making process to the Metro.