August 18th, 2010
The next important need in terms of infrastructure is proper public transportation. The Bus Day (on the 4th of every month) is a great initiative, but it won’t work in the long run. Take someone like me who lives more than a kilometre away from the nearest bus stop. There are no autos to take me to the bus stop. There is no parking near the stop for me to take my own transport that far. When I get there, I don’t know what time the next bus will be coming. For that matter, the buses don’t even stop at the bus stop. Then I have to change buses at Marathalli which means I have to walk another half kilometre and again I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait.
What we need are the following:
- Fewer long distance bus routes with more hub-and-spoke systems. There are nearly 30-40 different bus routes that go through a busy junction like Marathalli. In the Whitefield direction, there are only 3 final terminal points. But all these buses with different starting points and different routes choke up the junction. Shorter distance buses with higher frequency will reduce jams and improve commuting. This should be designed with the Metro in mind for the future as well. (UPDATE: The importance of this point came home to me rather forcefully yesterday while driving the nearly 10km from Marathalli to Domlur as the road was filled with buses all running mostly empty. A round-robin route on this stretch would mean more filled buses and less traffic on the roads.)
- Proper bus stops. This includes forcing commuters to stand AT the bus stop and NOT ON the road. Then the buses must be forced to stop at the stop rather than in the middle of the road. One solution to this is:
- Conductors and ticketing counters at the bus stop rather than on the bus. This would allow an additional passenger on the bus and would make the ticketing easier rather than having the conductor push his way through a crowed bus at rush hour. Also this conductor could ensure that the passengers wait at a designated spot for the bus, inform passengers about which bus to take for which destination and force the bus driver to stop at the bus stop rather than wherever he prefers. Bigger stops could also have automated ticket machines.
- Single ticket journeys. As a continuation of the previous point, a commuter at a stop will pick up a ticket for his final destination no matter how many buses he needs to change. Tickets should clearly have an expiry time (maximum 3 hours) which ensures that a commuter doesn’t use the ticket for other journeys.
- Systems for autos to provide locality transportation. Autos should not be used for long distance transport as much as possible and anyway they rarely make the journey to any destination you want. Long distance autos should be call autos like call taxis. Locality autos should have fixed rates and their journey should only be from home to bus stop.
- Single number for call taxis and call autos. In Bangalore if once has to call for a taxi there are half a dozen operators each with different numbers and then you have the call auto number as well. There should be a single helpdesk with multiple lines and this should be paid for by the auto and taxi companies. The closest auto/taxi can come and pick up the commuter.
to be continued… (part 3)