Saturday, April 25, 2009

Orange Line blues

Orange Line blues

Monica JhaFirst Published : 24 Apr 2009 04:23:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 24 Apr 2009 09:11:00 AM IST
BANGALORE: Extending the Kendra Saarige (Hop-On-Hop-Off) bus service to connect three major bus stations in the city has done some good to the BMTC in terms of overall revenue generation with higher occupancy than earlier.
Kendra Saarige buses have been witnessing decent occupancy between Shivajinagar and Kempegowda (Majestic) bus stations on the newly added stretch of the network.
However, the idea of using public transport in the central business district (CBD) has shown no signs of being favoured by Bangaloreans yet.
Kendra Saarige continues to see dismal occupancy between Shanthinagar and Shivajinagar stations, when the bus traverses high-traffic commercial areas like Richmond Circle, Residency Road, Mayo Hall, Central and Garuda malls, Hosmat, Dickensen Road near Commercial Street and Cubbon Road.
The bus service, which aims to get people out of their cars and get them into buses, need a strong support system.
With availability of public transport facility in the area, measures need to be taken to curb private transport.
A curb on use of private vehicles, and high congestion and parking charges could help the HOHO service pick up and help the bigger cause of cutting down on the number of vehicles on the road.
Also, a conevient parking area close to a HOHO stop and reserved for the HOHO bus users would help the service.
Considering the above facts, BMTC alone cannot make Kendra Saarige a success in the CBD as the support system has to be provided by other agencies.
Co-ordination amongst public agencies
Many rounds of discussions related to parking and congestion charges have been held at the government level but any results are yet to be seen.
A curb on parking or movement of private vehicles in the commercial area might resent the businessmen in the area as well as the elite class that prefers using private vehicles. A strong political will in favour of public transport is needed to make Kendra Saarige a success in the central area, said the senior official from the BMTC.
Why the route extension
After unprecedented low response from the public, we extended the service to Shanthinagar and Kempegowda (Majestic) bus stations.
We could not afford to run the buses at over 90 per cent loss. Before extending the service, BMTC was making Rs 3 to 4 per km while the operating costs were Rs 55 per km per bus. The idea of a CBD bus is not lost with the extension of the service to Shanthinagar and KBS via Shivajinagar station as Shanthinagar and Majestic also are part of the CBD. However, on these routes, the Orange and Blue lines of Kendra Saarige compete with ordinary buses, which are more in number (frequent) and cheaper in fare.
BMTC had initially opposed the start of HOHO services suspecting poor patronage in the CBD. However, the corporation later agreed, considering the benefits of the service in terms of popularising public transport in the long run.


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