City Pulse

A Three-Point Action Plan to solve Bangalore's Transportation Mess

January 11, 2016 By ICMyC User

Bangalore is witnessing huge stress in terms of population growth. Bangalore is registering 1600 new cars a day which translates to around 4 Lakh cars a year; 2 wheelers are mostly likely double or triple that number.

Is this growth in private vehicles sustainable? How will our roads look just 4 years from now with the potential addition of 16 lakh new cars and maybe 32 lakh new 2-wheelers? What will be the pollution levels? What will be traffic congestion levels ? Don't we as citizens need to take action now? How long do we wait before it turns into a full blown crisis? Are we going to wait for the day when every Bangalorean will own a car or a 2-wheeler (1 crore private vehicles) ? We are the most tolerant people of the world, as much as Aamir Khan would want to disagree.

If Bangalore's uncontrolled growth in private vehicles is not curtailed, rest assured economic activity in Bangalore will be severely impacted. Besides the heavy chaos, the heavy air pollution, travelling 1 km during peak time could take an hour (currently speed is 5-10km/hour during peak traffic) making commuting in Bangalore even more miserable and preventing economic activities that would otherwise happen.

What is the Economic loss to Bangalore because of the Transportation disaster we are in?

Has anyone estimated the economic loss we have caused or causing to Bangalore because of the transportation mess we have created? Could this be in 1000’s of crores of rupees every year?

  • People already don't do a lot of activities because moving from point A to point B is so bad. My guess is Bangalore could easily add +20-30% in additional economic activities if the transportation from point A to B is made smooth.

  • Commuters already lose hours of time in just commuting

  • Tourists/Expats will NO longer come to Bangalore nor will have good things to say about Bangalore to their family/friends.

  • NRI's want to stay away from Bangalore nor will have good things to say about Bangalore to their family/friends. I contend that city could be losing 1000's of crores a year just in this category alone. It is my contention that if city transportaton is made civil and we solve the cleanliness issue, the city could get 1000's of crores from NRI's (esp older semi-retired/retired NRI's) wanting to either settle or spend winters in Bangalore which enjoys good weather.

  • Even businesses may start to move out of Bangalore to other cities with better transportation

Here is a simple 3-point plan to avert this crisis

1) Improve Public Transportation

It is directly because of bad, inadequate public transportation that private vehicles continue to register growth at alarming levels. 

  • Eliminate BMTC monopoly. Open it up for private competition. We have direct evidence in sectors where there was monopoly (Eg: Telecom), services are of very poor quality. As an example see how good the public transportation is in South Canara district, Kerala where private players run. With competition, services will radically improve and citizens will benefit from improved services (quality, cost, speed and most importantly frequency).

  • Ban big buses on 1-lane roads. Introduce minibus/Vans (Eg: Tata Winger, Force traveler). Why? BMTC buses are unsuitable for 1-lane roads and they cause traffic slowdowns reducing overall vehicular speed.

  • ETA of all public transportation needs to be known via a smart phone app. If a commuter is in a bus stop, he/she will know the buses and their ETA to get to point B

  • Another potential experiment worth trying is to make public transportation as cheap as possible (if not free). In order to compensate for the lost revenue, a small city tax (0.25%) could be levied on businesses that generate revenue of say more than 5 crores/year. As an example, in Tallinn, Estonia couple of years back, in order to reduce traffic congestion (due to increased private car ownership), the government made public transportation completely free for citizens.  This has worked well by reducing traffic congestion and benefitted all citizens.

  • Once public transportation is made available with high frequency, good speed and low cost, a massive TV & Newspaper advertisement campaign needs to be unleashed urging citizens to abandon their private vehicles and start using public transportation.


2) Discourage Private vehicle ownership - Define a congestion zone and introduce congestion tax

This could be a radius of (15km*15km) from the city center.  This could also include other major roads in peripheral parts of the city.

All private vehicles will need to pay yearly congestion tax to get the permit to drive private vehicles inside the congestion zone. 

  • Add a yearly congestion tax for all cars and 2-wheelers. The congestion tax should be high enough to dissuade people from taking out private vehicles.

  • Make yearly congestion tax Rs1 Lakh/year for small cars, Rs 2 Lakhs/year for SUV's/Vans, Rs 0.5 lakh/year for 2 wheelers which can be reviewed every year for upward revision.

  • At most designated intersections, a license plate reader (sensor) can be installed that will automatically monitor and enforce this compliance.

  • Violators will need to be heavily penalized (Eg: +50% in penalties).

  • 2nd Time violators will need to have driver’s license suspended for 6 months.


3) Accelerate Metro construction

Why cannot we run Phase 3, Phase 4 projects in parallel? There are so many roads like Ring Roads, Sarjapur Road, Airport Road where Metro projects can start without any land acquisition issues. What is stopping BMRCL from giving out contracts to private contractors to build metro in 2016 ? Why do we need to wait for Phase 3 or Phase 4 or Phase 5 ? LIC is investing in Indian railways for inter-city transportation rail projects where they are ensured a certain rate of return. Why can't we get LIC and other Insurance companies fund city metro rail projects ? Isn't city metro rail where the potential daily passenger load could run into 1-million more important than inter-city rail projects or a $15b bullet train project between Ahmedabad-Mumbai with potential daily passenger load is in the 20 thousands/day (In 2023 bullet train is expected to carry only 40 thousand/day)? - Which project gives us more value for the money spent: Spending $15b on City Metro which has demand of 1 million passengers per day or building inter-city train that has demand of 40 thousand per day?

What is the bottleneck to accelerate and run metro projects in parallel?

Here is how you can help as a citizen 

  • Don’t ever buy a car in Bangalore. You are doing world of good by not contributing to the traffic congestion, environment pollution besides saving your money.

  • Contact your local MP, Chief minister of Karnataka and Bangalore development minister KJ George and ask them to solve the Bangalore transportation crisis by implementing the above 3-Point Action plan

  • Write emails to the Transport minister and the Prime minister asking him to help solve the Bangalore transportation crisis by implementing the above 3-Point Action plan. 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author who is an ICMyC user