BMTC’s AC bus services resumed on Monday. Drivers and conductors donned safety gear in what has become the new…Read More
BENGALURU: With the city slowly moving towards normalcy and people increasingly preferring private vehicles over public transport, experts suggest urgent steps to expand Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) fleet and better cycling infrastructure.
BMTC, with a fleet of 6,161 buses, had a daily ridership of 36 lakh before the lockdown. While the buses are back on the road, at a time, only 30 passengers are being allowed per bu to ensure social-distancing norms. Namma Metro’s ridership was about 4.5 lakh passengers a day before it stopped operations. However, it’s yet to get back on track.
With most offices and industries in the city having resumed operations, Bengaluru may witness a spike in traffic congestion and pollution as many people may prefer private vehicles over public transport because of Covid-19 fears.
Amit Bhatt of World Resources Institute, an NGO, said: “In pre-Covid times, the average density was four passengers per sqm during peak hours inside a 12-metre bus of around 20 sqm. This is the right time to scale-up the number of buses to ensure social distancing and to provide quality public transport to citizens.”
He said those who can afford to buy private vehicles may shift from public transport, further leading to congestion on roads.
Urban expert Ashwin Mahesh said Bengaluru required at least 7,000 more buses before Covid-19. “But now we need at least 16,000 buses to ensure social distancing since the vehicles are allowed to carry only half the capacity. But purchasing these many buses will take several years. The immediate solution is to hire them. Underutilised buses of educational institutions and companies can be used to run as BMTC services. This will ensure social distancing as well as provide a source of revenue for those drivers who lost their livelihood.”
BMTC managing director C Shikha said: “We are planning to purchase 2,143 buses and also lease another 390. The ridership now is only around 6 lakh since schools are closed, many workers have gone home and many techies are still working from home.”
Experts say the way forward is to encouraging non-motorised modes like cycling as well as opt for a combination of work from home and staggered office timings. This, they, say, will help reduce congestion.