Bengaluru: The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has been quick to start the work on creating a dedicated bus lane on the Outer Ring Road (ORR). The civic body plans to install as many as 25,000 iron bollards fitted with reflective strips on the 20-km stretch between Swami Vivekananda Metro Station on Old Madras Road and Central Silk Board.
The iron bollards — designed to stop private vehicles from entering the left lane on both sides of the 20-km bus corridor — will be placed a minimum of 2 metres apart from each other. These bollards will also be connected with chains (at two levels) so that the new bus lane is physically separated from the regular traffic.
The BBMP is spending about Rs 15 crore to implement the project.
As the road space below the railway bridge at Benniganahalli near the chaotic Tin Factory junction is not wide enough, the 20-km dedicated bus corridor has been divided into two parts. One, between SV Road Metro Station and Benniganahalli bridge. Another, between Lowry School in KR Puram and Central Silk Board.
The project is expected to attract more people towards using “fast-moving” buses over private vehicles. “We estimate the BMTC buses will be able to clock between 10-20km/hour as against the present speed of around 7km/hour. We also hope to increase the passenger load from 68% to 90%,” the BMTC officials said.
The BMTC buses will also have a dedicated lane at every junction. Officials said they are also contemplating ways to prioritise buses over private vehicles even at junctions. “We may allow private vehicles such as cars and two-wheelers to take U-turn only below the flyovers and underpasses so that the bus movement does not slow down,” another official in the BBMP said.
Officials from BMTC, BBMP and Traffic Police have been making several visits to the ORR in the last one week as they plan to start a trial run on October 20. The BMTC also held a public consultation to seek suggestions for the success of the project.
Experts, however, believe the project may not be a success as there is no plan in place to prioritise bus movements at junctions. “While everyone wants mass transit to be successful let us not forget that success does not depend upon our feelings but more on data. The highest number of people in a particular stretch on ORR carried in peak hour peak direction by BMTC is 15,000 with over 200+buses,” Pawan Mulukutla, urban mobility expert, tweeted.
In his another tweet, he said: “With just bus priority lane at the mid blocks bit no priority at Junctions the true benefit may not be achieved. 200 buses/hr is almost bus every 20 seconds. Will the stations be long enuff to accommodate these many buses?”
“Typically a single bus priority lane can accommodate a maximum of 100 buses with high efficiency. How will additional 100 buses be accommodated? This is a big operational challenge. This can be solved if additional lanes are provided at bus stops and provide express services. At Junctions with no priority & bus lane being in left, how would buses enter and exit junctions? With traffic wardens managing this traffic the benefit will be lost. The real choke points are junctions and there is no priority for buses there. So what problem are we solving?”