MY OPINION – Success depends on ability to take private vehicles off roads

The euphoria over opening of the east west Metro line is understandable. Cutting the travel time from 90 to 30 minutes is a dream come true for most of us. Commuters are enjoying half-empty roads along the direction of Metro. A substantially higher benefit of the Metro will come after the north-south link opens with a changeover at Majestic. That will be the real tipping point. No one should be surprised if Metro were to carry 5 lakh passengers a day by the end of 2017.Will taking 5 lakh passengers off the roads decongest Bengaluru? The answer depends on the type of ridership that migrates to Metro. Unless we take the right decisions now, such euphoria may be short-lived. Decongestion can only happen by reducing private vehicles on the roads. We must ensure the role of the primary public transport provider -BMTC buses -is not relegated to the background.Instead, buses should supplement the effort by contributing ridership to Metro from catchment areas. It should also provide last-mile connectivity from Metro stations.Bus routes require major tinkering by reducing trunk routes parallel to the Metro line and adding new ones across the Metro line touching stations.

The worst thing that can happen is the competition between Metro and BMTC in the quest for financial profits for their respective corporations.Competition through a healthy practice is totally undesirable here. Nowhere in the world efficient mass transport systems have compulsion to show financial profits. Instead these should contribute towards social and environmental profits clubbed with enhanced quality of life for citizens. It should not matter whose cash bells ring as long as public comfort enhances.Launch of single interchangeable ticket for Metro and BMTC would be a strong indication of such cooperation instead of competition.

The success of Metro depends on its ability to take private vehicles like cars and two-wheelers off the road. Our dream of decongestion would get shattered if it were to take away only bus passengers and make buses redundant. We should be careful not to do a `Delhi’ here where buses vanished and congestion multiplied due to filling of space by single-occupied cars. Our ultimate target should be to migrate car ridership to Metro.After all, the perceived decongestion resulting from the odd-even scheme in Delhi is primarily due to taking 50 per cent of cars off the road as almost every other category has been exempted! BMTC and Metro should both grow together, complementing each other and must be valued for benefits other than profits. An efficient and a reliable public transport system needs no publicity as people are capable of making intelligent choices themselves.Metro is both reliable as well as efficient. But to achieve optimum results we need to do a little bit of nudging by implementing the parking policy that will not only create muchneeded breathing space on roads but also act as a catalyst for the success of Metro as well as BMTC.

Paid parking is the best way to popularize public transport. Regulated parking can push citizens towards patronizing public transport.

We have run a full circle -from resistance and opposition to Metro to demand for the same in every neighbourhood. There’s need for walking an extra mile by integrating Metro even with privately run public transport like autos and taxis. Metro can never succeed in isolation. By leveraging technology for integration, Metro, BMTC, autos and taxis can collectively make traffic snarls of Bengaluru a history .

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