Mass public transit: 5 mantras for Bengalureans to learn by rote

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Mass public transit: 5 mantras to learn by rote – Or, how to answer other people’s questions

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1. Why do we need suburban rail in Bengaluru?

#ModaluTrainBeku because suburban train connects the suburbs around the core of the city without needing to pass through the city. Circular commute, similar to a ring road. Suburban trains in India are also much cheaper than the Metro. This enables people who may be lower income earners with no choice but to live farther away from the core & commute, to do so efficiently, effectively, affordably & without causing congestion & pollution.

2. Why do we need the Metro in Bengaluru? Is the bus and/or suburban train not enough?

The Metro typically connects localities within the city, allowing for radial commute and access to inner city localities at highest possible speeds & comfort, due to having dedicated tracks that don’t compete with road traffic. In India, the Metro tends to be much more expensive than the public bus & train, hence it’s ridership is a fraction of that of the bus & train in cities that have all 3 modes of mass transit.

3. Why do we need the public bus given the Metro and suburban rail?

#ModaluBusBeku because the bus is the most flexible means to mass public transport in any city. It goes not just around the city suburbs, like the suburban train, or to localities like the Metro but the inner roads & areas. It has the most ability to provide last mile connectivity while still remain a mass public transport vehicle. In large Indian cities, no matter which, it is the single largest form of mass transit, give it is much cheaper than the Metro in any city.

Public buses carry 11x more commuters than the Metro in Jaipur, 88 times more in Chennai & 12x more in Bengaluru as of 2017.

4. How can a politician genuinely support public transport, beyond claims and publicity?

The politician must be doing/have done 2 things consistently to be truly supporting mass public transit:

1. Make policy and sanction projects that INCREASE percent use of mass public transit in Bengaluru year after year after year. That automatically means:

  • massively fund mass public transit
  • expand it’s coverage & comfort
  • improve it’s speed, right of way, dedicate roads/lanes
  • deploy better mass transit enabling technology
  • improve ridership
  • reduce cost of using public transport
  • connect multiple modes of public transport seamlessly
  • incentivise public transport users
    Ditto for non-motorised transit – cycling/walking.

2) Make policy and sanction projects that DECREASE percent use of private transit in Bengaluru year after year after year. That automatically means:

  • reduce funding for roadway projects that don’t benefit public buses & are exclusively for private vehicles
  • lower road priority & right of way for private vehicles compared to buses, hence they are slower
  • increase costs to private vehicle users, cost of purchase, taxes, road taxes and tolls
  • disincentivise private transport users by levying pollution & congestion cesses that directly fund public transit
  • massively charge for all public parking – kerbside & inside structures
  • decrease ownership & number of private vehicles on roads as a proportion of population

5. How can a citizen genuinely support public transport?

  • Use mass public transit as much as possible
  • Agree to take the hit: don’t advocate to ease movement for your cars & bikes *inside the city* (signal free corridors, elevated corridors,) instead lobby for mass transit to be faster (right of roadway, dedicated lanes etc.)
  • Advocate mass transit: support greater funding in budget for mass transit over anything exclusively for private vehicle use
  • Agree to shell out: greater taxes & charges as a penalty for polluting, congesting & occupying disproportionate road and public space compared to the lakhs on buses & trains & the Metro.
  • Increase use of your feet – walk, cycle more.

Both these research reports from just now have a wealth of readable information:

1) https://www.cseindia.org/state-of-urban-transport-systems-8971

2) https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/43591-public-transport-a-key-element-of-smart-cities


About Tara Krishnaswamy 8 Articles
Tara Krishnaswamy is a volunteer for Citizens for Bengaluru and a political commentator. She tweets at @tarauk

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