Sunday, December 06, 2009

Has BMTC plan hit a road block?

Has BMTC plan hit a road block?

Anil Kumar Sastry
There is a move to house government offices on BMTC premises
— Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar

COMMUTER-FRIENDLY: BMTC has conceptualised TTMCs, such as this one in Jayanagar, for the city.
BANGALORE: A government move to house its offices on the premises of the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) may derail BMTC’s ambitious, people-friendly plans to convert them into facilities where commuters can park their vehicles, shop in malls and take the bus to work and back.

BMTC officials fear their project will remain stillborn if the Government pushes ahead with its move. Under the “one-stop shopping solution” plan, BMTC had conceptualised Travel and Transit Management Centres (TTMCs) where commuters, instead of travelling all the way in their cars and two-wheelers to their destinations, could drive in and park before taking take a bus to the destination of their choice.

Not just that, the TTMCs had also recreation facilities where commuters could eat in restaurants and shop in in-house malls and even catch a film at the multiplexes that were to come up there.

To help BMTC
The Government is already eyeing the space for some of its offices. At the recently opened Jayanagar TTMC, citing economic slowdown, government officials said that few private entrepreneurs and traders will be interested in setting up shops in these centres.

“The retail sector is yet to recover from the economic slowdown while chances of information technology companies occupying these centres are remote. If one government office moves into these centres, they will attract people and other business will soon follow,” said M.K. Shankaralinge Gowda, Secretary to Government (Transport Department).

Mr. Gowda told The Hindu that his department is shifting the regional transport office (South) from the BBMP shopping complex to the Jayanagar transit centre shortly. There are similar moves to shift government offices to the Shanthinagar centre. The carrot the government is dangling before the BMTC is the promise of steady revenues.

Commercial viability
A senior transport corporation official, however, differed. He said letting out commercial space for business activities was to strengthen the commercial viability of the corporation.

Former BMTC Managing Director Upendra Tripathy had said that eventually the transport corporation should be able to survive with revenue from these centres and as a result, would not feel the need to hike bus fares.

“If we accommodate government offices at the transit centres, the very purpose of constructing them will get defeated,” said a BMTC official.

The transport corporation thought up the transit centres four years ago to arrest the increasing number of private vehicles on the city’s roads. Mr. Tripathy was the brain behind this concept and was successful in getting financial assistance under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

Lower rent
The official said the offset (minimum) price for the Jayanagar transit centre was Rs. 50 per sq ft a month. While the government departments will pay only the minimum, BMTC could get more rent through open bidding, he said.

As per the government plan, one floor measuring 16,000 sq ft will be rented out to the RTO while 4,000 sq ft in the second floor will be let out to the commercial taxes department. Only 8,000 sq ft has remained for letting out to private traders and companies, he said.

At the Shanthinagar transit centre, the BMTC will have a big commercial space available once work on it is completed. The Revenue Department and Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. are housed at the BMTC terminal.

The Transport Commissioner’s office is to be shifted here while the Police and Revenue departments are also clamouring for space there. The facility will have four towers offering over eight lakh sq ft commercial area, the official said.


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