Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has been instrumental in implementing a number of technology enabled initiatives to mitigate challenges such as traffic congestion, pollution, women safety etc. C Shikha, Managing Director, Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) in an exclusive interview with Krishna Chandra Mishra of Elets News Network (ENN) says, “BMTC has been planning and operating a well-designed intermodal transit hub through all its Traffic Transit Management Centres (TTMC). The TTMC are well equipped and designed with ample parking lots, reliable bus services, rest lounges, inter connected city and Intra city services, safe walkway, IPT stands, taxi drop-off facilities, etc.”
Tell us about technology deployment in BMTC and your modernisation plans.
BMTC has Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in place, which has three components: (a) Vehicle Tracking Unit (b) Electronic Ticketing Machine and (c) Passenger Information System.
Vehicle Tracking Unit (VTU):
- Total Fleet Management System through VTU
- Real time tracking of 6,400 buses
- ETA through PIS and mobile app
- The VTU gives alerts on overspeeding, stop skipping, route deviation, stopping at nondesignated location.
- Two-way communication for emergency purposes
- Incident management
Electronic Ticketing Machine (ETM):
- GPRS enabled ETM
- Real time data transfer
- Mobile ticketing.
- Dynamic scheduling by analysing ticketing data
Passenger Information System (PIS): PIS displays have been installed at major bus stations and Kempegowda International Airport. These PIS would display the Expected Time of Arrival (ETA) of buses at bus stops / stand in five to 30 minutes would be displayed. Installation of 399 such PIS displays at 128 locations have been taken up which is under tendering stage.
MyBMTC App is operational which is an Intuitive User Interface. The App locates the buses on a given route with ETA at a given bus stop. The location of the bus is based on map view and text based. It enables commuters to plan their trips.
Student Bus Pass
From 2018-19 onwards the issue of student pass system has been made online. The students can apply for issue of fresh / renewal of their passes online. The system has been integrated with schools and colleges for authentication. Once the school / college authenticate the application, the student can schedule their appointment and location for getting the pass.
What are the green and sustainability initiatives being undertaken by BMTC?
All fleet of BMTC are BS-IV compliant and the future procurement will be of BS-VI compliant as per the new NGT requirement. Under the FAME-II scheme of Government of India, BMTC has finalised the tender for the procurement of 300 twelve metre Electric Buses under Gross Cost Contract (GCC) model. Similarly, Bengaluru Smart City Ltd. is funding for procurement of 90 nine metre Electric Buses on Gross Cost Contract (GCC) model.
All depots of BMTC are equipped with water recycling plants to minimise waste water runoff. The proposal of commissioning of Solar Roof Top paneling is in the pipeline.
Are there any programmes in pipeline for multi modal integration?
Integration of modes plays a vital role at attracting commuters to opt for public transport.
The network should be well connected and seamless. BMTC has been planning and operating a well-designed intermodal transit hub through all its Traffic Transit Management Centres (TTMC). The TTMC are well equipped and designed with ample parking lots, reliable bus services, rest lounges, inter connected city and Intra city services, safe walkway, IPT stands, taxi drop-off facilities, etc. BMTC is currently coordinating with Bengaluru Metro Railway Corporation Limited (BMRCL) to ensure that all metro station provide feeder bus shelter/ bus bay facilities to ensure transit through public transport.
What are the PPP opportunities with BMTC? How has been the experience so far?
BMTC would operate 300 12 metre and 90 nine metre Electric Buses with the assistance of Government of India (under FAME-II scheme) and funding from Bengaluru Smart City Limited respectively. This would be implemented through private operator under GCC model.
What are the challenges of urban transportation in Bengaluru and how do you intend to cope with those?
Rapid urbanisation in the city of Bengaluru has seen a drastic increase in the private vehicular ownership while the growth of bus fleet of BMTC remains relatively stagnant. The number of two wheelers has increased by 32 percent and private cars by 29 percent over the past four years, while BMTC fleet saw a marginal increase of two percent. This is in contrast with the per capita road space occupied by each mode where a bus user occupies 0.8sq.m of road space, which is one-tenth of a car user, using 9.30sq.m. of space and less than half of a two-wheeler user, using 1.90sq.m. of space.
The following are the key challenges faced by BMTC:
Declining per-capita fleet size: The fleet size of BMTC remained relatively stagnant over the past five years despite the population of the city growing by 17 percent during the same time and their mobility needs growing further. This resulted in declining buses per lakh population from 67 in 2014-15 to 55 in 2019-20. This is lesser than the Indian benchmark of 60 buses per lakh population and much lower than the global benchmark of 100 buses per lakh population.
“BMTC would operate 300 twelve metre and 90 nine metre Electric Buses with the assistance of Government of India (under FAME-II scheme) and funding from Bengaluru Smart City Limited respectively. This would be implemented through private operator under GCC model.”
Declining productivity due to congestion: Increasing congestion has also led to a declining productivity of the available buses in the fleet. The daily vehicle utilisation of buses has come down from 215 km per bus per day to 200 km per bus per day in just five years, resulting in a drop in overall service km offered by 12 percent.
Competitive Private modes: BMTC has been struggling to cope up with the connectivity and the fare provided by other private cab or Intermediate Public Transport (IPT) operators.
Poor financial situation: The cost of operations of BMTC have been increasing every year due to the annual increase in staff wages and fuel costs which constitutes about 50 percent and 30 percent respectively of the overall costs. The fares of BMTC have not been increased for the past five to six years resulting in limited growth in revenue. Increase in fares would also make the services unaffordable to the poor and costlier than two-wheelers, thereby reducing bus ridership.
As far as the second part of the question is concerned, BMTC has been trying out various strategies to improve its quality of service both for its commuters as well as for the operator, some of the ongoing interventions include:
Implementation of Bus Priority Lane (BPL): BMTC along with Bengaluru Traffic Police (BTP), Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) has been successful in implementing BPL on Outer Ring Road. The operations of which has shown some remarkable results where the ridership has increased by 12,000 passenger per day with travel time reduced by 15 minutes.
Given the current revenue gaps which are likely to increase further in the financial year 2020-21, BMTC will require Viability Gap Funding (VGF) support from Government of Karnataka to sustain the operations of its current bus fleet and the additional fleet proposed to meet the city’s demands.
In order to improve KMPL, drivers at BMTC have been given training on good driving habits to enhance their driving skills in order to achieve the desired results.
Several ITS components have been adopted by BMTC. The introduction of GPS, Passenger Information System, BMTC App, CCTV Cameras, etc. have improved the reliability of the services provided, thus increasing public transport patronage.
“Rapid urbanisation in the city of Bengaluru has seen a drastic increase in the private vehicular ownership while the growth of bus fleet of BMTC remains relatively stagnant. The number of two wheelers has increased by 32 percent and private cars by 29 percent over the past four years, while BMTC fleet saw a marginal increase of two percent.”
Each year, BMTC has been adding new vehicles to its fleet. During the financial year 2019-20, BMTC is in the process of inducting 2,143 buses along with 390 electric buses. Increase of fleet size ensures good quality of reliable services to its users.
Women’s safety in public transport is a big concern. How do you plan to address this?
BMTC currently caters to 35 lakh passengers per day out of which women commuters comprise of about 50 percent. Safety of women passengers have been priority for BMTC. Some of the initiatives that have been implemented by BMTC from the assistance of Government of India under NIRBHAYA scheme are:
Infrastructure and vehicles:
- CCTV cameras have been installed in 1,000 buses
- Waiting lounges exclusively for women commuters have been put in place in major bus stations
- BMTC also operates a 24*7 call centre to address complaints from passengers and fasten the grievance system. There is a dedicated line in the call centre for women safety to ensure that calls regarding safety are handled on a priority basis
- Three rows of seats have been reserved for women commuters in all our buses for their safety and comfort.
Gender sensitisation and Women Safety Protocol training for crew and ground staff have been imparted regularly to improve their understanding and awareness of the issue.
Enforcement and grievance redressal system:
- As many as 25 Pink Sarathi (patrolling vehicles) have been deployed for the safety of women passengers. These jeeps would go around near bus stops to address complaints and issues related to women passengers.
- A mobile Application exclusively for ensuring women commuters’ safety while travelling in our buses is in pipeline and is expected to be launched shortly.
- Advocacy, advertisement and awareness campaign on Women’s Safety and Consumer Awareness.