Bengaluru’s poor public transport utilisation needs urgent attention: B.PAC survey

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The city with a population of over 12 million has nearly 8 million vehicles on road as of 2020. The draft revised Master Plan for Bengaluru – 2031 states that the modal share of public transport in total overall trips is only 48% as against 82 % for Mumbai.A city such as Bengaluru which has only 42 Kms of Metro serviced  that too for limited locations and a negligible suburban rail service, an efficient bus transport system is the only most significant public transport system available in the short and medium term. Since the arrival of metro services in the city, bus trips have begun to show slow decline.

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The ease with which commuters have access to First and Last Mile Connectivity (FMLM) is one of the key determinants of better utilisation of existing public transport infrastructure and can lead Bengaluru to a future vision of urban mobility predicated on public transport.

To better understand the travel patterns of first and last mile connectivity of public transport users, Bangalore Political Action Committee conducted an online survey of 1129 respondents. The survey was conducted in the month of November-December, 2019.

The survey was divided into two segments

  1. Users of public transport and their first and last mile connectivity to public transport (774 respondents)
  2. Non users of public transport and their alternate mode of transport (355 respondents)

69 % of the respondents were users of public transport, of which 36 % use more than one public transport service in Bengaluru – BMTC/Metro/ Suburban railway. First and last mile connectivity to public transport forms an important part of the travel experience on public transport.

In Bengaluru, the connectivity to public transport varies across various micro locations , with certain areas in the city having either one or more of public modes namely metro, bus or suburban connectivity and some far flung areas having limited or no connectivity to public transport. At present, there is no formal physical integration or information integration across the modes of transport in the city. Physical and information integration is imperative to encourage people to use public transport. In the survey, 24 % of the respondents stated lack of first and last mile connectivity as their reason to not to use public transport.

There were differences observed in the travel pattern for men and women in choosing the modes for first mile connectivity.

  • 65 % of the women said that they prefer shared mobility – auto, cabs, shared cab as their first mile connectivity option to access public transport
  • 50 % of the men preferred personal owned vehicles to cover first mile to access public transport

Constituency level workshops were also conducted in Byatarayanapura and Malleshwaram involving citizens, civic groups, elected representatives and representatives from departments – BMTC, BMRCL and Traffic department to understand the current challenges of first and last mile connectivity to public transport.

The following key general requirements emerged  from the discussions

  • Safe pedestrian pathways for walking
  • Safe cycling paths
  • Cycles, Urban Speed Vehicles (20 kmph), shuttle buses, shared autos, two wheelers and cars
  • Designated parking spaces for shared mobility near Transit Stations  that will significantly reduce parking space requirements of individual vehicle usage
  • Designated parking zones for shared/rental mobility vehicles so they do not obstruct footpaths and roads

Connecting Transit Stations (Bus /Metro/Suburban Rail) to high foot fall locations  emerged as another urgent and immediate priority through our study.The following high traffic use cases for FMLM have been identified for immediate consideration.

  • Transit Station to Industrial Corridors/Company Campus
    As an example,  transit from Byappanahalli Metro Station to ORR and Whitefield  could be a  good use case where a connected shuttle service could bridge the gap between metro station to industrial corridor/near campus and the reverse as well.
  • Transit Station to College Campus
  • Transit Station to Public Place (e.g. shopping mall/ large hospital)
    It was also mentioned that since the Constituency has higher proportion of senior citizens who travel to Malleshwaram market area on a daily basis, they rely heavily on private vehicles and single ride auto due to lack of other shared mobility options.
  • Residence to Transit Station

A shuttle service or a feeder bus system with a specific route covering the distance between residential areas to public transit stations is the other desirable option to close the first and last mile gap. The residents of Malleshwaram who took part in the workshop highlighted the need for introducing shuttle service from the metro stations to connect the interior parts of the residential localities.

Time for Action

The city’s poor public transport utilization needs urgent attention.We need to  conduct pilots in  a few high traffic corridors aimed at providing the requisite physical infrastructure, connectivity services for above use cases and complete information integration across different public and shared mobility modes. Such a pilot would provide huge learnings for deployment at scale across the city.

The new age mobility service providers in the city have been working on solutions to address this first and last mile gap. At present, the app based bike taxi, bike rental, cycle rental, shared cabs and carpooling among others are the options to cover the first and last mile journey. However, not all public transit stations at present have parking facilities for app based rental vehicles. Our survey suggests that of the total number of people who travel on public transport, 18 % of the people do not walk their first and last mile. The use of non-motorized transport such as walking and cycling can be encouraged by providing walking and cycling infrastructure as well as providing cycle parking at metro stations.

Shared mobility – shared autos and cabs are considered as an effective mode of transport to cover the first and last mile distance to and from public transport. In the survey conducted, 51% of the respondents use shared mobility as their first mile travel to access public transport; and, 68 % of the respondents use it as their last mile travel from public transport.

The citizens of Byatarayanapura where the workshop was conducted were of the opinion that shared auto services work efficiently and offer good first and last mile connectivity to public transport. However, the existing regulations in the state of Karnataka restricts the mobility service providers in offering these services.

Encouraging non users of public transport to transition to public tarnsport

In addition to understanding the travel patterns of first and last mile connectivity to public transport from the users of public transport, the survey also collected responses from the non-users regarding their alternate mode of travel to work/college and other destination. In the survey conducted, 31% of the respondents said that they do not use any modes of public transport in the city. Among the non-users of public transport, usage of personal mobility – own bikes/cars is higher among men (88%) when compared to women (62%).

The innovation in the mobility space to close the first and last mile gap such as bike taxis, e-rickshaw, e-scooters should be encouraged as they offer better first and last mile connectivity. Further, a multi modal integration of all public transit modes in the city would enable service providers to build solutions to close the first and last mile gap.

Metrics for measuring  improvement

These interventions need to be monitored closely for effectiveness  based on the following broad principles :

  • Universal Access: Many people continue to lack access to transport and are therefore unable to reach jobs, education and healthcare services due to inadequate transport. Providing multiple forms of public transport to meet various stakeholder requirements at different price points.
  • Transitioning to sustainable mobility: Measuring improvement in public transport usage due to better first and last mile connectivity
  • Efficiency: Reducing time to travel, congestion, and cost of travel in a sustainable way.
  • Safety: Road transport causes the bulk of fatalities worldwide; 97% of the deaths and 93% of the costs. By reducing the number of private vehicles on the road, fatalities can be reduced.
  • Green Mobility: The transport sector contributes 23% of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and 18% of all man-made emissions. Measuring increase in NMT, cycling and EV trips would be a big contributor to green and sustainable mobility.

The city and its citizens are bogged down by the severe mobility challenges faced  every day and crying for attention. We hope the government is listening and acting!

To access the full survey report click here.

[Revathy Ashok is Honorary CEO & Managing Trustee B.PAC  and Archana MV is Research Co-Ordinator B.PAC]

 

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