Bengaluru gets smart: Parking app for motorists

Deccan Chronicle.  | MK Ashoka

Nation, Current Affairs

The result is that today more than 72 lakh vehicles ply in the city when it is difficult to handle even half this volume.

Parking troubles are also common on the Hebbal-K R Puram stretch, Hosur Road Silk Board Junction, Chickpet, and J C Nagar.

'Chaos' is the only way to describe Bengaluru's road traffic. And if one civic problem rivals potholes, it's parking. Areas near major bus stands like Shivajinagar and Majestic, or railway stations like Cantonment are always a mess, with autos, private vehicles and cabs competing for space. It's no surprise - the city has over 72 lakh private vehicles when its infrastructure is equipped to handle only half that volume, says Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao. Experts say the sychronised traffic signal system has also failed to ensure the smooth flow of traffic. Solutions are on the way, with the BBMP flagging off its smart parking project, an app-based initiative across 85 roads in the city, reports M.K. Ashoka

Visit the Majestic KSRTC and BMTC bus stands , Shivajinagar, the Cantonment and Yeshvanthpur railway stations any day of the week and you are greeted with chaos. Autos and private vehicles rule the roost, parking their vehicles at  will and in the way of oncoming traffic.

Things are not much better on MG Road, Church Street, Rest House Road and Museum Road in the heart of the city, which  have very limited parking slots. In fact, there is no parking available between Bishop Cotton’s Boy’s School and  the St. Philomina’s College on Residency road.

The story is repeated around the Sophia High School near Chalukya Junction and the Reddy School near the water tank in Koramangala, observes Mr Yogesh Gowda, a RTI activist.

Parking troubles are also common on the Hebbal-K R Puram stretch, Hosur Road Silk Board Junction, Chickpet, and J C Nagar. To make things worse, Mr Chandrashekar, a traffic analyst, says  in the absence of a footpath and  parking space near Gandhi Bazaar and the Malleshwaram Market, people are forced to park their vehicles  a distance away and walk on the road in the way of traffic to get to their destinations.

“You can’t disturb the traders, who have encroached upon the footpath and the road as they have political backing,” he rues, adding that although  Avenue Road, Gordon Street, Kumbarpet and K R Market pay the most GST and income tax, they have no proper facilitiy either. “In fact, K R Market provides parking in a cellar where the two -wheelers and four- wheelers begin to float when it rains. So people prefer to park their vehicles on the roads outside,” he notes sadly.

Mr Rudra Murthy, general secretary of the Autorickshaw Drivers Union (ARDU) blames the traffic police for autos being parked haphazardly in the city.

“Roadside vendors occupy spots where an auto stand should have been allowed. So auto drivers are forced to wait on the roads for passengers. We have met the commissioner of police and senior traffic officers about this problem,” he adds.

Ask city commissioner of police, Bhaskar Rao about such complaints and the dismal traffic and parking conditions  and he says  the unprecedented growth of Bengaluru due to a proliferation of education institutions and IT/BT companies has put tremendous pressure on transportation and traffic management and regulation. “Inadequate infrastructure and the inter- modal public transport system has further aggravated things. The result is that today more than 72 lakh vehicles ply in the city when it is difficult to handle even half this volume. Since the traffic police are the most visible face of traffic management. I assure people that we will leave no stone unturned in discharging our duties to meet the growing challenges,” he adds.

Traffic management centre to come up in 18 months
It was touted as a solution to the city’s traffic troubles, but the synchronized traffic signal system introduced by the city traffic police in some areas has failed to iron out the chaos and provide smooth flow of traffic as  promised.

What’s worse is that many of the traffic signals have developed faults, beaming only the red and green lights and not the yellow,  creating anxiety among drivers, says traffic analyst, Chandrashekar.

But joint commissioner (traffic), Ravikanthe Gowda, says things will soon be set right as in the near future most of the traffic signals will be vehicle actuated.
“This is precursor to a full fledged Traffic Management Centre (TMC) which will come up in 18 months and is under construction at a cost of Rs 13 crores,” he says, explaining that his is an important step towards an “Intelligence Transport System,”  comprising of 160 surveillance cameras, 10 enforcement cameras and 50 variable message sign boards.  Also, all 400 signals will be connected to the TMC through a lease line, he adds.

Besides this, in selected corridors, an Area Traffic control (ATC) system is being installed. And to help pedestrians 20 pelican signals and 510 blinking signals have been installed in the past one year, according to him. In addition TMC will have a professionally managed traffic helpline and parking information system in due course, the officer reveals.

Providing more hope, home minister, Basavaraj Bommai, too has promised to reduce  traffic congestion in the city by 50  per cent by  upgradation of 12 important traffic signal points on the Bengaluru-Pune highway (Tumakuru Road), Outer Ring Road, Old Madras Road and Ballari Road, Hosur Road and certain parts of the Central Business District.

Smart parking underway on 85 roads: BBMP

Bengalureans will see a significant change as for as parking is concerned in a few  months as the haphazard system will give way to a smart one on 85 select roads in different parts of the city.

Under the new smart system, there will be designated spots for  parking of two and four- wheelers on the roads concerned, which people can book in advance through an exclusive app that has been created for the project. There will be no manual receipts either as the entire system will be computerised and can be  accessed through  smart cards.

The work order has been issued for the pilot project, which marks  phase 1. Based on how well it does, the system will be extended to more roads in other phases.

The  BBMP is not investing any funds in the project as the entire cost is being borne by the agency,  Building Control Solutions India, which will pay an annual concession fee of Rs 31 crore to it. The agency was selected through a tender and the project is being carried out  on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis..

The time frame given to the company for implementation is between six to eight months. It is expected to have things in place by March and the project will be commissioned before the end of this financial year.

Once the system is in place, a nominal fee will be collected for parking on all these 85 roads, which were selected on the basis of availability of parking space. Physical markings will be done around the parking slots and sensors fixed to provide prior information to the drivers about their availability.

They will not need to  search for their reserved parking slots  as the information will be available on their mobile phones and display boards will be installed at junctions giving details of the available parking  slots on different roads.   

The good news is the parking fee will be much lesser than the fee charged by malls and other commercial places. The project has been conceptualised by the state urban land transport department.

S. Somashekar Chief Engineer, Road Infrastructure, BBMP