Sunday, September 28, 2008


A slew of transport projects is set to transform the commuter’s experience. But the old problem — of each agency functioning in isolation — remains. When will these be integrated, asks R Krishnakumar

Bangalore: The Bangalore traffic grid is set for a makeover with three major rail lines tipped to run through various pockets of the city. The city’s showpiece rail link — Namma Metro — is expected to commence service by December 2010, even as the Karnataka State Industrial Investment and Development Corporation (KSIIDC) clears the decks for the high-speed rail link (HSRL) from the city centre to the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) in Devanahalli. The state has also cleared four corridors in the city for Monorail, planned as feeder links to Metro.
In the years to follow, Bangalore could have rail lines running up to more than
100 km. This, when the city’s planners are still grappling with basics like maintenance of roads and enforcement of traffic discipline. The situation makes Bangalore the ideal candidate for multi-modal transportation systems, according to traffic and transportation experts. The ambitious Comprehensive Traffic and Transportation Plan (CTTP) for the city has dealt in detail with the scope of integrating various forms of transportation, like mass rapid transport, buses and light rail systems.
According to senior officials monitoring the traffic and transportation systems in the city, the issue now is that different agencies are planning and functioning in isolation. This is the critical aspect that the chief minister’s ABIDe (Agenda for Bangalore Infrastructure Development) team is also focusing on.
Three hubs on the cards
The state is planning to develop three major traffic and transportation hubs in the city, at the BRV parade grounds near MG Road, Hebbal and Byappanahalli. M N Sreehari, traffic and transportation expert and adviser in the ABIDe task force, says the Bangalore Metropolitan Land Transport Authority (BMLTA) is streamlining the integration of various departments towards a multi-modal transportation system.
“In Hebbal, the idea is to integrate bus traffic to the rail link to BIA. Availability of land is one aspect that will work well for the project. The area will be planned as a major interchange hub,’’ says Sreehari. Byappanahalli — that will have a Namma Metro depot as well as bus terminals — is set to emerge as another traffic integration point. The area is also being planned to accommodate Monorail and a traffic and transit management centre (TTMC). According to officials in KSIIDC, the nodal agency for the implementation of HSRL, a Namma Metro ramp is tipped to pass through the city airport terminal (CAT) building of the HSRL at the BRV parade grounds. With the Namma Metro and HSRL stations dedicating space for bus bays and other integration features, core city areas like MG Road will also double as traffic interchange points.
The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRC) Ltd and the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) are working on the concept of smart cards, with which passengers can board the Metro as well as BMTC buses. Sreehari says the long-term plan is to integrate Monorail and HSRL services into the smart cards. With the concept of common ticketing, the city’s planners are looking at the possibility of a commuter moving around in Bangalore, in different modes of transport, with the same ticket.
Skewed priorities?
Even as the integration of different modes of transportation gains prominence in the planners’ agenda, misplaced priorities continue to cloud the grandiose plans. An ABIDe task force member points out that the integration plans are, by and large, pegged to connectivity to BIA, while choked traffic centres like the Majestic area are being sidelined.
There has also been a persistent demand for commuter rail networks on the city’s fringes. Sreehari sees commuter rail system as the way forward in cracking the gridlock. “We already have tracks to other districts and states and a lot of people are moving on these corridors anyway. If the commuter rail takes off, it could solve 30% to 40% of Bangalore’s traffic problems,’’ he says.
Namma Metro Phase 1
Two corridors that cover 33 km. The East-West corridor (18.1 km) between Byappanahalli and Mysore Road and the North-South corridor (14.9 km) between Yeshwantpur and RV Road. Operation to begin in December, 2010
Phase 2
Electronic City to Yelahanka (36 km) Whitefield to 100 Feet Road, Indiranagar, via HAL Airport Road (19.5 km) Extension of North-South corridor of Phase 1: Jaraganahalli to PRR (7 km); Byappanahalli to Benniganahalli, along Old Madras Road, (1.5 km). Plans for the expansion have been cleared
High-Speed Rail Link
From BRV parade grounds to BIA in Devanahalli, with two stations at Hebbal and Yelahanka (33.65 km). Letter of award of project work expected in February, 2009
Corridor 1: Hebbal to JP Nagar (31 km) Corridor 2: PRR to toll gate along Magadi Road (9 km) Corridor 3: Kathriguppe-Ring Road junction to National College (5 km) Corridor 4: Hosur Road-Bannerghatta Road junction to PRR (15 km) Detailed project report (DPR) expected by October 8


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