Sluggish traffic: BMTC buses make fewer trips

Bengaluru: The city’s crawling traffic is taking a toll on its public transport  with many Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) drivers admitting they are not able to complete their targeted trips in a day owing to the congestion on the roads.

As the number of vehicles on Bengaluru’s roads rose from 50.5 lakh to 72.6 lakh in the last five years, their average speed has fallen to around 10 km/hr in peak hour in most parts. The corporation’s buses, which were reduced to travelling at 20 km/hour in 2013,  are now having to travel at 15km/hr per while negotiating the traffic. Under BMTC norms, the buses are supposed to cover a kilometre in three minutes, but currently they take more than double this time in the Central Business District, say its officers.

The BMTC now appears to be left with no choice but to experiment with changing the timings of its services to help it deal with the present traffic on the roads. "Everyone knows how bad the traffic is in the city, but  still people  expect our buses to reach them on time. Having received numerous complaints from both passengers and bus drivers about the traffic, we thought  changing the timings of the buses could help. We  plan to try this on selected routes," says a senior BMTC  official.  

The corporation, which operates over 6,000  buses on more than 2,000 routes in Bengaluru, has decided to change the timings of as many as 3,000 services to begin with, he reveals. The other solution it is toying with  are dedicated lanes for its buses. But this has not taken off chiefly due to opposition from the traffic police , who feel the separate lanes for buses could reduce road space and increase congestion.

“But a special bus lane in Bengaluru is very necessary for us provide better services to our commuters. So we are planning to approach the traffic department again with expert opinion to back us," the officer adds.  

Sadly, although the corporation has access to crucial data like optimal routes, peak hours and location-based passenger demand through its intelligent transport system (ITS) using GPS,  it doesn’t have an expert team as yet to process and interpret it to help it with route rationalisation, which too could help in the present situation.

While it tries out various solutions, commuters have their own take on them. “Changing the timing of buses cannot be a permanent solution. The BMTC needs to understand that it is no longer the sole public transport utility in the city and focus on shorter routes instead of long-distance ones to beat the traffic and  ensure better frequency of buses. Short-route buses can not only provide more reliable service but  also operate as Metro feeders,” argues Mr Purushotham, a city advocate.

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