BENGALURU: Many residents in the city, fed up with the slow crawl of BMTC buses, have been asking for dedicated bus lanes. This January, the bus-lane project was approved too, in principle, by the Department of Urban Land Transport.
The department had started marking out lanes in yellow lines along busy stretches such as from Silk Board to KR Puram and MG Road to Hope Farm via Whitefield. But now it has been pulled back. We hear a collective groan but the traffic department head says that Bengaluru will never get a dedicated lane system.
“It is not practical in this city,” says R Hithendra, Additional CP Traffic. “Theoretically, dedicated bus lanes can carry 60 buses in an hour, but practically only 30 buses can ply. At the same time, the two-lane traffic system can carry 2,000-3,000 vehicles (including buses) per hour.”
Indiscipline of drivers is also a consideration. “Our motorists will jump lanes and we have limitations to monitor every such violation,” says Hithendra. “Either we need to put up physical barriers along the entire stretch or need to deploy more police personnel to catch the defaulters... both are impossible to do.”
Apart from these practical difficulties, the state government’s decision to construct a metro line between KR Puram and Silk Board also caused the reversal in plans. According to the officials, the metro construction add to the traffic chaos in this choking bottleneck and dedicated lanes will only worsen the nightmare.
BMTC is quite upset about the decision. “We had sent requests to the department concerned,” says the tranport service’s MD, Ekroop Caur. “We even got initial approvals... Former Commissioner for traffic M A Saleem was also present in our discussions with various department heads.”
Caur believes dedicated lines will ensure “fast and smooth movement of buses”. What of inconvenience caused to other motorists? “We should give preference to the buses because more people benefit from them,” she says. BMTC bus drivers agrees with Caur. “Bigger vehicles should get preference,” says Manjunatha, a BMTC driver from Kempegowda Bus Station. “We carry larger number of people and even struggle to keep to the schedule, stuck in busy traffic.”
Early last year, the traffic police had tried out dedicated auto lanes across the city. They reversed the plans because it was widely considered unsuccessful.
The traffic department had dedicated lanes and put up barricades at various places such as at Majestic and Cubbon Road. Auto drivers had stretches to speed through, but they were unhappy. They say the lanes are restrictive, and often you could see autos ignoring the lanes and rushing through traffic.
Rajkumar S, an auto driver from Majestic, says, “If we have auto lanes we can’t drive fast. We need more roads and flyovers, not separate lanes.”
Four-wheeler drivers wish the two and three-wheelers would simply vanish into their dedicated lanes and are unhappy that the traffic department didn’t follow through with that plan.
Muniraja is a cab driver. He says, “The autos should have separate lanes and so should the two wheelers, both don’t follow traffic rules. We can’t predict which side they will switch to and in this bumper-to-bumper traffic, accidents are bound to happen with such erratic driving.”