Monday, May 25, 2009

Ready for smooth ride?

Ready for smooth ride?
Point-to-point service to Metro stations will cut use of cars, decongest roads and keep pollution in check
Jayashree Nandi | TNN

Bangalore: Leave the car home, de-congest the roads and start warming up to travel in the feeder service of public transportation that’s soon going to take over the city roads.
In a prelude to Namma Metro that is likely to come to fruition by 2010-end, the state government wants to prepare commuters — especially the middle and higher middle classes, who are the targeted passengers of Metro Rail project — to adapt to the bus system.
A fleet of 1,000 buses that will soon hit the roads, promises to be high-end, have lastmile connectivity, 24-hour information on a toll-free phone service to locate the bus, a dedicated public campaign and parking policy.
This bonanza comes with a bag of reforms in the urban transport sector. It is not for the lower middle-class but is funded with the objective of getting higher middle-class citizens who travel by car.
How it WORKS?
The feeder service is about travelling point-to-point in the buses to reach the Metro station and hop on to the train. Instead of people travelling to Metro stations by private vehicles, which will subsequently crowd up parking lots, it is aimed at using public transport entirely.
According to environment experts, this stimulus package of Rs 323 crore, given by the Union urban development ministry under JN-NURM to buy buses, can be one of the important tools in tackling urban air pollution.
The Supreme Court’s Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, that met with Pollution Control Board representatives from nine cities, focused on this measure.
To receive this fund dedicated to public transport, the departments had to outline reforms like increase Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) which is BMLTA in Bangalore, a strong parking policy and many others. One such reform for Bangalore would be exemption of 4% VAT on buses. A parking policy is also being formulated under the chief secretary.
People-friendly BUSES
BMTC will launch an aggressive public campaign this year to make buses people-friendly. They will partner with RWAs to shift people’s dependence on cars to high-end buses. Another reform to make these buses more viable will be a control-cum-information centre with a toll-free number. In the proposal, BMTC has also committed to cover new areas with last-mile connectivity.
“While US and Europe are giving stimulus packages for cars, this is a unique opportunity for the city to build its public transport system. We are more hopeful of improvements because the cities had to show certain reforms in their transport structure, which was also discussed at the EPCA meeting,” said associate director, Centre for Science and Environment, Anumita Roy Chowdhury.
Securing the GRANT
Bangalore is one of the eight critically-polluted cities that have received this stimulus package to buy 1,000 buses. However, the grant was given on the basis of a detailed report that will outline how public transport will be made more viable.
“The whole idea of giving this grant is to get the middleclass and higher middle-class to leave their cars and travel more by buses.
“People don’t want to compromise on their comfort and space, but these buses are meant to be comfortable, accessible and high-end AC and non-AC. They can reduce a huge load from roads. A conventional car occupies at least 200 sqft. Imagine how much space we can save hence,” explained KUIDFC officials.


Post a Comment

<< Home