The Bengaluru Bus Prayanikara Vedike (BBPV), a platform of several organisations which work towards improving urban mobility in Bengaluru released a series of proposals that could help improve the public transport system and reduce traffic congestion in the city. The proposals have been made ahead of the upcoming Karnataka Budget 2021-22.
The BBPV raised the issue of how the government could invest and improve the bus transportation system and also provided suggestions to improve revenue.
‚ÄėBus transport should be prioritised‚Äô
In the statement the BBPV raised questions about projects like the metro as the main mode of public transport. They said that the metro‚Äôs exorbitant financial and other costs raise critical questions of whether and to what extent this investment really serves the public. They also questioned heavily invested projects like elevated corridors, which encourage private vehicle ownership.
Citing the National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP) recommendation to promote public transport and discourage use of private modes of transport, they said that this had not been done till date, and recommended allocations in the Budget.
Firstly, the BBVP suggests that the government make travel free for women on buses. They said that this could significantly improve the affordability of transport for the urban poor and increase the mode share of buses, thereby impacting congestion. The BBVP cited measures taken by the Delhi government on how this can improve revenues.
In the statement, BBVP said, ‚ÄúMore women took to buses bringing along the accompanying men as new paying commuters, increasing the revenue as well.‚ÄĚ
Secondly, a city-wide ‚ÄėBus Priority Lane‚Äô was recommended. The statement said, ‚ÄúThis will improve the travel time by bus and make taking the bus more attractive and efficient.‚ÄĚ
To expand the bus fleet, they recommended that the government should take up larger procurement of e-buses after careful evaluation through direct procurement and operation by Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) rather than through public‚Äďprivate partnerships (PPPs).
Operational support for BMTC
‚ÄúAffordability is also a concern for commuters, especially the working class and urban poor, more so now in the deepening economic crisis post-lockdown. Under the circumstances, financial support should be extended to the BMTC to provide affordable mobility and provide services across the city irrespective of revenue considerations,‚ÄĚ the statement said.
To achieve this, the BBPV has recommended allocation of funds in the Budget for
Viability gap funding to cover the gap between ticket collection and operational costs.
Waiver of various taxes like Motor Vehicle tax, fuel taxes, taxes on spare parts etc.
Free passes to a wider cross section of workers by the government with support from the Labor Department to contribute to social welfare.
Raising resources through congestion taxes and parking charges on use of private vehicles.
Provide a share of State Urban Transport Fund And Smart City Mission funds.
The BBVP also recommended that funds be allocated in the upcoming Budget for footpaths, safe at-grade crossings and walking paths at major bus interchanges and junctions, as these were also essential infrastructure for bus commuters.
In addition to all the above recommendations, the BBVP has requested the government to call a meeting of bus commuters and advocacy groups like them and others who use buses for regular commutes, to understand their concerns and demands.