Traffic jams are one constant thing that have been synonymous with Bengaluru city over the last two decades. Haphazard public transport planning is one of the primary reasons for the ordeal. In order to solve this crisis, activists in Bengaluru want a much-desired unified transport authority to be instituted at the earliest. With the Budget session of the Karnataka Assembly set to start on February 14, the Bengaluru NavaNirmana Party (BNP), a new political outfit has started a petition demanding that the state government table the Bengaluru Metropolitan Land Transport Authority (BMLTA) Bill in the upcoming session. A draft Bill prepared by the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) has already been out in the public domain since September, 2021 and many citizen-activists have already sent their comments on the Bill.
At the time of writing, the petition has got more than 1,300 signatures. However, the Bill was not tabled in the Winter Session of the Assembly that was conducted in Belagavi held in December 2021. The text of the proposed legislation states, â€śA Bill to provide for the constitution of the Bengaluru Metropolitan Land Transport Authority for Urban Mobility Region in the city of Bengaluru and for regulation of the development, operation, maintenance, monitoring, supervision of urban mobility within Urban Mobility Region.â€ť
Emphasising the importance of the Bill, Lalithamba BV, Head of Campaigns for BNP, said, â€śIt is important for any city to have a clear owner of a regional mobility strategy or plan. Bengaluru being the second most congested city in terms of traffic in the country, it essentially needs an empowered and comprehensive regional planning authority. The stated aim of the Bill is the integration of social, economic, and spatial development policies and plans to advance sustainable urban transport.â€ť
Case in point, a much needed suburban rail connection to the airport from the city centre was deprioritised in favour of a metro line even though the latter is a much more time consuming and expensive project. Earlier in September 2021, itself a group of organisations and activists had taken part in a â€śCall your MLAâ€ť campaign urging their legislators to take up the matter.
Although the concept of an unified transport authority was introduced by the Union government in 2006 as part of the national Urban Transport Policy (NUTP), there was no effective implementation of the same in most of the mega cities. The Karnataka government in 2007 had set up the BMLTA with the aim to move from private vehicle-dependent to public transport-oriented development in Bengaluru but without any executive power or budgetary allocation.