Transport: Master plan misses the bus, Metro!

Little mention is made of transport, for instance, a crucial issue in a city bursting at the seams.

The BDA’s detailed Master Plan 2031, which should address the city’s problems based on what its growth is likely to be in 2031, opts instead for sketchy surveys that leave out major structures and make ad hoc proposals. Little mention is made of transport for instance, a crucial issue in a city bursting at the seams. Suburban rail and even the much-hyped pod taxis have been left out of the current plan, while the Jayadeva Flyover, a crucial cog in the road transport network, is being razed to make way for the Namma Metro. It’s time. Band-aid solutions were replaced with a holistic approach that factors in future growth in keeping with cities across the world, reports Ranjani Madhavan.

The Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA)’s masterplan 2031 makes vague proposals for inter- modal transport hubs, lists various modes of transport, but fails to check if the land is available for them or if the ideas will be of any real use to people , whether they will be affordable and so on. Transport expert from advocacy group, Praaja RAAG, Sanjeev Dyamnavar takes us through the positives and the negatives of the latest masterplan for the city.

The master plan speaks of providing additional ring/radial roads wherever possible and giving importance to urban road design.

Sanjeev: Why are they suggesting additional radial and ring roads? There is no mention of their location or whether they will cater to cars, buses or the Metro Rail. Will trucks that are banned from entering the city , be allowed to ply on these radials? We need to consider the cascading effect on the economy when freight trucks are not allowed to ply within the city.

The plans says the Intermediate Ring Road can have a Light Rail, Monorail or BRTS connecting CIL Main Road, Pottery Main Road, Byapanahalli Main Road and the BMIC expressway. It suggests this will help improve the public transport share if it covers the Domalur Flyover, Indiranagar 100 ft road, CMH Road, Indira Nagar 80ft Road, Swami Vivekanada Metro station and the upcoming world class Baiyappana halli Railway station.

Sanjeev: How do they plan to provide transport in dense corridors with Light rail or Mono Rail in a city like Bengaluru, where the population is set to explode by 2031? Moreover, these are supposed to be for short distances like 10 kms, not 80 kms as mentioned in the Master Plan. BRTS would be a good option but they scrapped it years ago. So why mention it in the Master plan? When the carrying capacity of the Metro is far better, instead of these suggestions or even the flyover from Sony Signal to the Intermediate Ring Road, they could extend it from Indiranagar to Koramangala and even touch Jayanagar on the green line.

The plan proposes BRTS over 21.6 kms on the Hennur -Bagalur Main Road.

Sanjeev: This is the only section in the whole document that mentions BRTS . This is not a bad idea and can work to a certain extent as there is another terminal coming up at the international airport and a bus lane could cater to that. BRTS was planned years ago along with the Outer Ring Road and all the infrastructure was built accordingly. However, they suddenly decided against it and diverted the space for Metro. For example, the two lanes below the flyover at Banaswadi, Hennur, Nagawara were intially meant to be a bus lane.. Even today , a lane is occupied by buses during peak hours in the traffic towards the airport right from Windsor Manor to Yelahanka. In fact, there is no such thing as non-peak hours anymore. This can be implemented , but as the plan was cancelled earlier, land acquisition will be an issue now.

LRT/Monorai/BRTS has been proposed at numerous places, like Sarjapura Road, Old Airport Road, Magadi Road, Jalahalli West Main Road, Varthur, Bellary Road, Trinity Metro station, Coles Park, Cantonment Railway station, and Cubbon Park Metro station.

Sanjeev: The plan just lists the different modes of transport available in the world without considering their feasibility. What segment mode are they addressing? Who will it help in Sarjapur for example? How will they integrate LRT stations with the Metro and Suburban Rail? There are residential areas on these stretches. How do they plan on successfully demolishing the houses to build a Light Rail or Monorail. Ever since Mumbai lost crores of money from the failed monorail project, no other city has dared try it. Why are we considering it when it will not help anyone ? .

The plan has proposed 36 intermodal interchanges in the city at Cantonment, Trinity Circle, SV Road metro, Domalur, Baiyappana halli metro, Madiwala checkpost, Lottegolhalli Railway station, Hebbal, Mekhri Circle and other spots.

Sanjeev: Each inter modal hub is different. At Yeshwanthpur, we could integrate the Metro, bus, Suburban Rail, autos and taxis, but we can't bring the Suburban Rail to Trinity Circle. They have not considered what modes can be connected upto this point. These locations are random at best. How do they plan on making Cantonment an inter- modal hub when the Metro station is 800 metres away from the railway station? Public transport and seamless connectivity means a person does not have to exit from the Metro, step out on the road and enter a bus. They are all connected. Is there land to integrate BMTC buses with the Lottegolhalli Railway station?

The plan talks of two new links proposed to BIAL other than the existing Bellary Road and Hennur Road. One is an extension of existing Nagawara Main Road and the other is extension of SH-35 at Old Madras Road via Sivas Road.

Sanjeev: This is a good idea.

‘Pod taxis, suburban rail left out of master plan’
"There is no mention of the Suburban Rail. While adding a third and fourth railway track to Whitefield is in the pipeline, how will the BDA accommodate this? The pod taxis, do not even feature in the document either. Even orse, existing modes of public transport like taxis and autos are not given due importance. We do not have a single auto or taxi stand in the city.

The plan talks of eliminating level crossings for the Suburban Rail and small bus stands. But who will fund what, who will take the responsibility of connecting the Metro to Light Rail or other modes of transport, the commercial activity required to sustain the transit hubs, land availability, and so on are some of the many issues that have not been dealt with in the document.”

BDA doesn’t have the legal status to plan transport, mobility
“The BDA does not have the legal status to plan anything apart from land use. Any recommendation it makes on a Mono Rail, or Light Rail is not binding on the parastatals. It is not going to see through their implementation or validate them. Which Metro or bus route has the BDA ever planned?” asks Mr Sathya Sankaran, a Praaja RAAG expert, pointing to the irony of an authority with no expertise in the area of transport being asked to plan it for the city.

Besides suggesting that the BDA keep its nose out of mobility planning, he says the real power must be vested with the Unified Metropolitan Authority, a transport regulation body that is currently being framed by the state government. Surprisingly, there is no mention of UMTA or structural changes in the latest master plan, he regrets.

“The quality of the master plan is doubtful if it does not include something as basic as UMTA. It has been sidelined completely. If UMTA was in place, it would have co-ordinated with the BBMP and Metro before deciding on building the Jayadeva flyover or the Jayadeva Metro line,” he reasons, pointing out that once it is set up any road laying, expansion, metro alignment or bus route will have to have its approval.

“If the LRT is planned , it will be built only if an empowered body like UMTA says so,” Mr Sankaran explains, also lamenting that the BDA has implemented only 14 per cent of the 2015 master plan for the city. “ If it cannot even plan land use , it must be shut down right away,” he adds angrily.

Poor planning results in waste of public money, agree other experts,referring to the move to raze the Rs 21 crore Jayadeva flyover for Metro Phase 2 as an example.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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