Bengaluru: The Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), which was known for serving almost half of IT City’s 1 crore population, is fast losing its image as a “lifeline of Bengaluru”. Its current daily ridership has dramatically come down from 55 lakh to 36 lakh.
According to the report published in TOI on Sunday, the daily ridership of BMTC has come down to only 36 lakh in 2018-19. This is far less as compared to the previous financial years. The transport utility had catered to around 51 lakh passengers a day in 2013-14. It came down to 50 lakh ridership (a day) in 2014-15. And, the daily ridership further reduced to only 46 lakh in 2015-16.
Research papers say that at least 60% of the City’s population should use public transport services. With Namma Metro catering to only 4 lakh people a day, Bengaluru’s public transport adoption stands way too low, showing clear signs that the traffic congestion will not go away. On the other hand, Bengaluru’s love for personal vehicles continues to grow as it is home to over 25 lakh cars and 50 lakh two-wheelers.
The reason for the massive fall in ridership is many. The transport corporation had inducted only 290 new buses in 2018-19 although as many as 440 old buses were scrapped during the corresponding period, records available on BMTC’s official website show. In the current financial year (up to July), the BMTC could introduce only 4 new buses to its fleet of 6,192 buses.
The growing traffic congestion appears to be another factor that contributed to the lack of patronage towards BMTC services. Official records show that BMTC could cover only about 11 lakh kilometres a day in 2017-18 and 2018-19, while the corporation had a record of clocking 13 lakh kilometres a day in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
Time and again, the BMTC had sought approval from the State Government to created dedicated bus lanes but their requests were turned down. Even the traffic police are not in favour of bus priority lanes as they think that the private vehicles would suffer due to narrowed down roads. The corporation, however, believes the bus services would attract more ridership if people see buses moving faster than private vehicles.
Advocates of the public transport system have been constantly demanding the State government to support BMTC as it does to the Namma Metro. While the Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation (BMTC) receives a grant of at least Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 crore every year, the BMTC struggles to get even Rs 100 crore.
To make operations viable at a time when the expenditures are increasing every year, the BMTC is always looking at an opportunity to increase bus fares. That has forced some commuters to choose personal vehicles as commuting in two-wheeler has become cheaper than BMTC buses.