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BMTC’s build-first-think-later Complex

Published : Aug 29, 2013, 8:10 am IST
Updated : Aug 29, 2013, 8:10 am IST

Bengaluru: While the cost of public transport such as the BMTC has seen a sharp rise, an IISc study has come up with solutions that will not only help the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation


Bengaluru: While the cost of public transport such as the BMTC has seen a sharp rise, an IISc study has come up with solutions that will not only help the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation save money, but also finally put its Traffic and Transit Management Centres (TTMCs) across the city to better use. The Indian Institute of Science study has attempted to address one of the biggest complaints that commuters have — the bus doesn’t go where and when you want to go. The study thus advocates the ‘hub-and-spoke’ transit system, which uses the usual city buses on major routes, as well as mini-buses on shuttle services. The study titled Development of hub and spoke model for bus transit route network of Bangalore city has been undertaken by a BMTC employee, Aanlingaya B. H. Osapujaria, who is on study leave at the IISc. In the last few years, BMTC has built 10 TTMCs across the city at a cost of over Rs 442 crore, and another 45 TTMC are in the pipeline. So far, these TTMCs have failed to act as an efficient transit hub and to get the returns in terms of commercial use of the properties. The study’s hub and spoke system suggests that the first mile and last mile connectivity can be achieved if all the TTMCs, which by default are well located to serve as hubs, are interconnected by inter hub bus routes and each TTMC is then fed by feeder routes. At present, the BMTC bus route network is based on the point-to-point or destination oriented network system. The study notes that under the hub-and-spoke model, all city zones are connected to every other zone through TTMCs, resulting in seamless connectivity. Further, this transit system will also allow the BMTC to go for direction oriented services, which will reduce the number of routes. Thereby, BMTC can reduce the number of buses required by 1052. Staff will according be reduced by 5,575 persons and fuel consumption by 67,103 litres per day. All these saving and others too, will reduce the total cost of running the service by Rs 81,07,169 per day, the study notes. The results of the study have been submitted to BMTC and the State transport department for their assessment. High cost, low returns TTMCs have not been able to justify the outlay of Rs 442 crore to build them. The buildings are situated in business areas, have ample parking space and other amenities, but these have not been commercially exploited to the extent they could be. BMTC MD, Anjum Pervez, however, told Deccan Chronicle that things are changing and commercial use is being made of the properties. “The commercial spaces in TTMCs are being sold out and we are generating revenue,” he said. However, sources say the rent BMTC is getting is barely 10 per cent of its investment of Rs 442 crore.Not a transit point The TTMCs were supposed to have dormitories and amenities for drivers and conductors on the late night and early morning shifts. This has not materialised and the bus staff sleeps on the floor of the bus stations at night. The staff also don’t have urinals of their own and have to use the restroom facilities of the private restroom operators who charge them. This has led to clashes with the private operators. The BMTC has now intervened and said no fee should be collected from BMTC bus staff. Next: ‘Organising routes will save fuel, cost’ ‘Organising routes will save fuel, cost’ Ashish Verma BMTC in the recent past has invested hugely in TTMCs, which have been build in multiple numbers across Bangalore city primarily under JNNURM, but have been highly under-utilised, not just in terms of the facilities that are created, but also in terms of their use as hubs. The objectives of these TTMCs are: to provide an integrated transport facility with adequate amenities to cater to the requirements of the users, to encourage use of public transport and provide first/last mile connectivity through provision of park and ride facilities, across platform transfers, generate revenue through commercial establishments etc. Thus the TTMCs potentially fulfil most of the requirements of a hub. Having so many TTMCs already in place and also the fact that BMTC has a large fleet of costly Volvo and other air-conditioned buses, it is but natural to expect that BMTC should utilise this available network of TTMCs effectively by developing hub-and-spoke model of operation. Our research has clearly brought out the fact that there are particularly substantial benefits for the operator in adopting such a network. Essentially, a hub-and-spoke network reduces the route length for any bus route as they operate either between hubs or between hub and spoke. Since, the BMTC buses run in mixed traffic conditions, a shorter route length will help in improving the reliability of the service on each route and will help in maintaining the schedule of buses on time thus improving the punctuality aspect for users. Hub-and-spoke network can also help to reduce bunching of buses, which is a common sight with BMTC buses in Bangalore. Due to the heavy demand in large cities like Bangalore, the traditional destination oriented design results in large number of very long transit bus routes. These zigzag routes, connecting each node to every other node overlap on certain corridors resulting in bunching on various sections of the network. This bunching leads to high concentration of buses, thereby causing irregular distribution of headways on the stops of the route. Further, adopting a more efficient operation of services through a hub-and-spoke network can help BMTC offset the effect of diesel price rise in future and thus does not burden commuters with higher fares. The writer is an Assistant Professor, IISC and Associate Faculty (CiSTUP)