The Revised Master Plan has addressed a few crucial concerns in Bengaluru’s Infrastructure.
However, if work starts today, many of these projects may well be below capacity by 2031.
The Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA) has released its Revised Master Plan (RMP) for 2031 for the city. In this RMP, the BDA has proposed some major projects to help decongest Bengaluru city.
The RMP states that 1.18 million residents of the metropolis waste 600 million man hours per annum travelling by road, causing a loss of Rs 3,700 crore, along with a fuel loss per annum pegged at Rs 50 crore and almost 2.8 lakh litres per day.
The RMP has 7 specific points for future transportation infrastructure development. They are:
1. Developing a Road Network Structure
Improving the existing road network by developing a network structure and defining road hierarchy. Additional rings and radials will be provided where needed and urban road design will be considered as an important element. What is road hierarchy?
Road hierarchy essentially categorises roads as per the capacity and allows for planning the network to keep congestion minimal. High-volume roads such as Hosur Road, Tumkur Road and Bannerghatta Road would be on the top of the hierarchy, carrying maximum traffic and connecting the Central Business District (CBD) to outlying areas. Roads such as Begur Road would form the next rung to carry traffic off these main roads into different localities. Further roads would carry traffic from these roads into various sub-localities. Once classification is done, different roads will be accorded different priorities and levels of funding for development and management.
Urban Road design refers to standards that have been set for planning and development exclusively for urban areas. They may include road widths, carrying capacity, junction and intersection designs, design of bus stops and bus bays, and most importantly setting up pedestrian infrastructure. The Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India has set up specific standards for road width, design of intersections, road markings and signage as well as traffic calming methods for managing speeds of vehicles.
2. Improving Public Transport
The RMP focusses on improving public transport to carry 70 per cent of traffic, as opposed to the existing 50 per cent. This point specifically places emphasis on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Metro and Monorail projects, as well as Commuter Rail. As we had discussed earlier, any efficient transport system should be a proper mix of different modes of transport. Introducing more buses on crowded roads, which has been a hallmark of Bengaluru’s transit in the past decade won’t work in the future owing to the severe congestion. BRTS needs to be explored in outlying areas where land is not at a premium. The commuter rail needs to be given a serious thought as it can be set up using the existing railway network passing through the city. Future Metro and Monorail projects need to be built to connect commercial areas such as Whitefield and Electronics City with residential pockets.
3. Transit Oriented Development
Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) refers to development of areas around transit points. It involves setting up of residential and commercial zones with a reasonable distance from a transit point. The core point that is taken into consideration for TOD is to eliminate the problem of last-mile connectivity and give commuters easy access to transport from their place of work or residence.
4. Provision of Freight Movement and Logistics Hub
A freight movement plan is needed for any big city. Bengaluru, being India’s third largest city by population witnesses a high amount of freight traffic moving in and out of the city. This alone adds to a bulk of the congestion witnessed. To counter this, the traffic police bars goods vehicles from entering city limits during the day, which eases traffic, but hits productivity. A freight movement plan will enable the efficient movement of goods. While the BDA has not elaborated on how it plans to do this, one can assume it will involve dedicated roads for freight movement on the outskirts of the city as well as setting up truck terminals.
5. Reorganise Interstate Bus and Rail Hubs
Possibly one of the action points that is already in action, Bengaluru has witnessed a gradual decentralisation of its intercity transit network. The Kempegowda Bus Station, once the central point of transit for all buses in the city has slowly seen outstation traffic move out to different bus stations. The Bengaluru City Railway Station too, has seen trains shift their starting points to Yeshwantpur. However, congestion is still prevalent. Intra-city transport will also require to be reorganised on these lines to cater to this new decentralised network that is slowly falling into place.
6. Making Bengaluru Pedestrian-Friendly
The most crucial among all the points here, pedestrians have for long been neglected on Urban Indian roads. Lack of pavements, encroached spaces, open drains, have plagued Bengaluru for long. While the BDA and the BBMP have been focusing on setting up accessible pavements under the TenderSure project, a lot more needs to be done, especially in the outskirts of the city.
7. Making Bengaluru Cycle-Friendly
Again, an important point, cycles have been relegated to ride on pavements where available due to the absence of proper infrastructure for them. Provision of cycle lanes, enforcement on these lanes as well as cycle parking lots would be the focus under this point.
Overall, the RMP has addressed a few crucial concerns, however the target is too far. All the points mentioned above need to be taken care of sooner than 2031. Fifteen years is a long time, and knowing our planners, if they start work today, many of these projects may well be below capacity by 2031.