This was a long pending post yet again about Bangalore. Its a continuation to my nightmare post, and an effort to get out of the said nightmare!
As some of you may be aware, after long thought process I had decided to stay in HSR Layout a few years ago. It was a quite neighbourhood, but also having every possible restaurant, shopping areas, or just places to simply walk. My office was on the outer ring road. Another option, Bellandur is a perpetual construction zone and it just has two tiny entrances at service roads which added to the high cab refusal rates. Thus HSR was finalised. Plenty of parks and a sector-wise development plan. However, one thing it always lacked — a bus that serves all the sectors; ones that goes towards my place of work — ORR or ECity or Koramagala or BTM/JP Nagar. Basically all the places that surround HSR. I tried to look out for buses during my evening chai, but failed to find any useful number of BMTC buses. But I did see ample Infosys, SAP, Samsung and other companies running their buses almost every 30 min during peak hours. Maybe BMTC should outsource buses to them!
Within a few months of staying in Bangalore and specifically HSR, I realised that Bangalore has become a city built for cars. Cabs and personal vehicles. And coming from Mumbai, not able to use public transport was a major change.
Eventually, every morning 20min to half an hour was spent just on the HSR 27th Main Road to join to ORR. The road was filled with cabs and cars with no sense of discipline and the urge to ‘beat the traffic’. This was solely because of lack of buses that go places where the majority of the population wants to. Thus, problem no. 1. No feasible buses from people’s home to work.
If I were given a choice to go by bus, I would opt for it any day. And I did. For a few times, I walked more than a kilometer to reach the main road and started taking the bus. That was problem number 2. Walking for 15 minutes on a dug up footpath to go and stand in a bus wasn’t quite feasible. Of course people in Mumbai do that too, even on sweaty sunny and pouring rainy days, but the idea of Bangalore is different. Idea of Bangalore isn’t of a struggle, it is lavishness, and irresponsibly lavish at that. Since tech people think they earn a lot in Bangalore, we have a sense of being privileged. That is an issue for another day, today lets stick to the bus problem. (I’ve been told I deviate a lot while writing!)
The bus fare was the next problem. It wasn’t any cheaper than taking a share cab. And given the pros and cons, if public transport isn’t dirt cheap, plus having to walk up a lot and wait for it just to get in the bus and stand, people will resort to commuting by cars. And that is problem number 3. BMTC, or the Karnataka govt. or any govt. should stop thinking of buses, trains and other public amenities as ways to earn income. They are not set up to earn profits out of. They are set up that facilitate the development of that place. They should remain as liabilities.
Any govt expenditure that provide public benefit will provide a stimulus for development. That stimulus could be increase in condo apartments, stores, restaurants, new pockets of jobs, etc. They will then be followed by increasing the liveliness, and the spending capacity of that place. It will gradually increase the standard of living of the people. Thus, that is where the state/city will earn from, and not directly through the bus’s revenue system. Eventually it will increase the happiness quotient of the place.
Back to BMTC, and back to HSR. By now, it was clear that the government is focussing on bringing more and more MNCs to the city and drastically increasing the migratory population while not focussing on infrastructure to support that very migration.
I decided to request a bus route from HSR to the outer ring road. Back in Mumbai, requesting a route was quite simple. You gather signatures of 30 people, with their frequency of travel and timings and thats it. BEST will try out the feasibility of the route for a few weeks and if it picks up, they’ll continue with it, or cancel it. Thus, this process takes barely a week. Bus from my home to my engineering college in Bandra (Route No. 473) was started in this fashion and it is still running. Its been over 10 years! #10YearChallenge here!
So I went to facebook, gathered people who were willing to sign and showed interest in taking bus service and to take that document to BMTC. I requested the route online on BMTC website, no respond. I pushed it to the citizen forum, started a poll for which you can still vote here, no results. Due to the language barrier I was hesitant to directly meet someone at the depot. But since all other ‘routes’ failed, I decided to go to the depot. With that I learnt, that the depot has outsourced the feasibility study and footfall analysis to other local firms. These companies are the ones suggesting BMTC to start bus routes. This had started tangling. It was evident that BMTC wanted just profits and would not care about the commuter experience.
Thus, I went ahead on facebook (again) to get even more elaborate understanding of where people stay, places of work, etc. Basically hotspots for the bus stops. Opened up online surveys and tried to publicise it. Lot of residents hated the idea of buses inside of the ‘peaceful locality’, even opposed it. However, with whatever data and generic common sense and empirical knowledge I chalked out 5 routes that connect all the 7 sectors within HSR, and connect them to the entry points of the rest of the neighbouring areas of E-City, BTM, Koramangala, ORR. The gif below depicts them.
The routes are colour coordinated for better comprehension.
- Orange. There is one ring service that runs around HSR, that facilitates people to move within HSR, and as a feeder to ORR.
- Red. One bus route coming from silk board, and entering HSR, and again joining ORR at Agara.
- Blue. Another bus route coming from silk board, and entering HSR, facilitating different sectors and again joining ORR at Agara from a different road.
- Green. One route that comes from E-City, taking the periphery of HSR and connecting to the ORR skipping the dreaded silk board.
- Black. One is a partial ring service that connects Koramangala and HSR which takes a loop inside HSR, thus can also be used for people to reach the ORR while of course aiming at people towards Koramangala.
The other fiasco is the Airport bus. Apart from the apathy of the airport itself, the Vayu Vajra bus routes 7 that comes to HSR BDA complex does just that. It terminates at the BDA complex acting as if the rest of HSR is untouchable! Everyone with their heavy ‘baggages’ now have to get down at the BDA complex and wait for an Uber to drive them home, adding another 40rs to the cost of airport travel. If it is not clear till now, why doesn’t the Airport bus do a ring loop inside of HSR?! Does the BMTC really not care about the people? Sure doesn’t look like it.
Since about 6 months, I have moved houses. Neither the old nor the new house is still served by a bus service to my workplace within a reasonable 500–600m walking range on both sides.
If you are in a position to help Bangalore in this regard, I can come of help. If you are someone who faces this issue too, write/comment your thoughts and of course consider sharing this.
Before ending, could we quickly just admire the sheer number of bus stops for Mumbai’s BEST!?