Namma Metro: Ongoing efforts for an integrated and Multi-modal transport

Transportation played a part in the industrial, economic, social, and cultural development of all regions in every commodity produced which includes agricultural to industries at various stages of production to distribution.

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Namma Metro: Ongoing efforts for an integrated and Multi-modal transport
Namma Metro: Ongoing efforts for an integrated and Multi-modal transport
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Abstract
The transportation system plays a vital role in a part of any country as it contributes to social and economic development. Transportation was built closely with well-organized movements and the development of humans throughout the history of the world.
Transportation played a part in the industrial, economic, social, and cultural development of all regions in every commodity produced which includes agricultural to industries at various stages of production to distribution. The transportation system includes planning, design, development, maintenance, and improvement. The increasing vehicular traffic on the urban road in the network demand effective measure of traffic control on road – networks, mixed traffic creates congestion and traffic jam in road networks.
The land use feature and transportation system are interdependent as it contributes to improving and expanding the transportation network. If the system is efficient, safe, and economical, the development of the city improves with better accessibility. Mass rapid transit system projects like metro rails are expected to improve traffic and road safety conditions (reduced vehicular traffic, traffic congestion, road accidents, etc.) and environmental conditions (air and noise pollution) in urban areas Studies have been conducted to assess the overall potential and efficiency of the metro rail in terms of easing the traffic scenario in Bengaluru city through commuter perception.

The use of metro services by the public is known to decongest urban traffic. The public can use metro services when the outermost destinations are directly accessible to metro stations. Issues with connectivity from home or destinations to access the metro can lead to the choice of modal shift. In this regard, the last mile connectivity study is undertaken to evaluate the last mile problems. Last mile connectivity is defined as the movement of public goods from a transportation area to their final destination such as home or workplace. This is usually used in telecommunications, chain management, and transportation planning describing transportation efficiency. When users have difficulty getting from their starting location to a final transportation network, the scenario is alternatively
known as the problem in the first mile. Vice versa Last mile problem refers to difficulty getting conveyance from the transportation network to the users’ destination.

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Development of Transport Systems
The quest for rail-based solutions began close to 40 years ago in 1983 in Bengaluru when a Commuter Rail system was first proposed. Since then, road traffic has grown by leaps and bounds as street-based transport has remained the only option, even as
BMTC buses became inefficient, unreliable, and unpredictable due to increasing traffic congestion.
If all goes well, the bulk of Bangalore’s Public Transport commuters will be moving in trains over rail tracks rather than on roads by around 2032. Plans that have been pending for a long are finally being implemented to expand Metro and add Suburban
Rail to cover large parts of the city with a combined urban rail network totaling over 400 km.
High Traffic Congestion Reports state that the total number of motorized vehicles in the city would be well over 10 million by end of the year 2022. The number of motorized vehicles in the city was 2.64 million in 2008. This had shot up to over 8 million by 2019 at an average CAGR rate of growth of 10.32. If this trend were to continue, the city will have over 14.5 million vehicles by 2025 itself.
Bus Transportation
Bus commuters increasingly have moved to two-wheelers, cars, and other more nimble vehicles of all sizes including door-to-door taxis that can be hailed over a mobile phone. Wrestling to gain advantage on streets with vehicles jostling for space has thus reached alarming proportions. No matter how excellent the supply side of public transport may be, services can only have as much quality and punctuality as traffic conditions will allow. This aspect is overlooked when calls are being made to increase bus services multi-fold to address public transport deficiencies. At the same time, buses do have enormous reach as city road networks are vast. Hence buses have an important role to play since tracks can’t be built everywhere for trains since they require a lot of space and are far more capital intensive.
Expansion of Rail-Based Transportation
The expansion of Metro and the development of a Suburban Rail system on dedicated tracks are steps that were long overdue in the city. These steps are now being taken by the government in an attempt to shift public transport users off the streets onto exclusive track systems for faster commutes. During Phases 2 and 3, Bengaluru Metro (popularly called ‘Namma Metro) is likely to add 211.6 km to the existing 42.3 km that has been in operation since 2017 (built under Phase 1). About 14 km under Phase 2 has been commissioned in 2021. Thus, 56.1 km is currently operational. Two new lines are expected to be commissioned by 2024-25 and the Airport line is likely to get ready by 2026-27.

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Namma metro card

Rail Network Connecting Most of the Areas

Metro’s Phase-3 routes and stations have been announced and Detailed Project Reports (DPR) is under preparation. It is likely that construction may begin by 2025 with an estimated completion target of 2032. Route selections appear reasonably good
to cover most parts and activity centers. On completion, the Metro network will have eight lines. Two lines would be aligned around the circle of the Outer Ring Road. The remaining six routes are mostly radial and will have intersections with the Ring line/s (some lines will intersect at multiple points). The three North-South Metro lines will provide easy access to central CBDs as they cut through the city’s central areas. The four Suburban routes will supplement the Metro system and offer faster commutes over longer distances (thus, it will more or less be an ‘express’ mass transit system with much fewer halts than the metro). The existing East-West metro Line (Purple line) will in the future be supplemented by the Parijaata Suburban Line that deviates from the Purple line’s route when within ORR but converges outside ORR at both ends. It is hoped that the onslaught of motorization will slow down, if not halt once these extensive rail-based travel options are made available. Road expansions need to be minimized; just enough to take care of necessities to operate buses or reach public transport, particularly in peripheral areas where the secondary and tertiary road networks are in poor condition, and also to assist commuters to reach trains easily.
Major Development Plan
To ease traffic congestion and with a focus on NammaMetro, suburban rail, and Peripheral Ring Road (PRR), underlining the need for a better mass transit system, a new 35-km Metro line connecting Sarjapur to Hebbal through Agara, Koramangala, and Dairy Circle at an estimated cost of Rs 15,000 crore has been announced by the present Bommai government in Bengaluru. A detailed project report (DPR) for this line is proposed to be prepared in FY 2022-23. Of the 35km, Hebbal to Koramangala (16. 8km) will be underground, and the remaining Koramangala to Sarjapurstretch (18.6km) will be elevated. BMRCL yet, have not stated anything clearly on whether this corridor will be taken up in Phase 3A or Phase 4 and also on its deadline but mentioned that several traffic studies need to be conducted before preparing the DPR. The BMRCL also disclosed that they plan to take up this corridor in the next phase. Experts and activists have welcomed the announcement since the proposed route cuts through the city’s core areas.

Earlier, BMRCL had drawn flak for focusing on Bengaluru outskirts, allegedly due to political pressure. It may be noted that, around nine years ago, BMRCL had proposed the Carmelaram-Yelahanka line, which was to be taken up under Phase 3, but it was later put into cold storage reportedly for the controversial elevated- corridor project. Now, it has been truncated to Sarjapur-Hebbal. The KR Puram-KIA Metro corridor will cover the Hebbal-Yelahanka section, so it makes sense to have a SarjapurHebbal line. The Bommai government has also announced adding another 33km of Metro line to the existing network in 2022-23. With the addition, the NammaMetro will have an 89km network. The 58-km Outer Ring Road-Kempegowda International Airport Metro corridor will be completed by March 2025. The DPR of Namma Metro’s Phase 3 corridors —32 Km Hebbal JP Nagar and 13 Km Hosahalli-Kadabagere lines— at an estimated cost of Rs 11,250 crore soon shall be submitted to the Centre for approval. The state government has said that the Peripheral Ring Road project will be implemented at a cost of Rs 21,091 crore under the DBFOT (design, build, finance, operate, and transfer) model. The contractor will bear the cost of land acquisition and construction. The government has stated that the 148-km Bengaluru suburban railway project will be completed by 2026 at an estimated cost of Rs 15,267 crore. A skywalk shall also be constructed at a cost of Rs 45 crore at Banashankari junction to connect the Metro station with the bus stand. Similarly, Metro stations will be connected to their nearest railway stations at a cost of Rs 55 crore in White-field, KR Puram, Byappanahalli, Yeshwantpur, Jnanabharathiand Yelahanka.
Last Mile Connectivity: A Need

While Bengaluru has grown in leaps and bounds, especially in the last two decades after it became the Silicon Valley of India, the overall connectivity has miserably failed to keep pace with this growth. Though 110 adjoining villages were included in the city corporation nearly 14 years ago, the city’s public transport system continues to be patchy, forcing residents to rely on private vehicles. The city has multiple modes of public transport, including BMTC buses, Namma Metro, and suburban trains, but they function in isolation and lack integration. Hence, many commuters find them unreliable and bank on private vehicles for their daily commute. As the city has been a boomtown for the software industry and startups, the number of people with purchasing power to buy cars and two-wheelers is high. The result is severe traffic gridlocks at many junctions, due to the proliferation of private vehicles. Entry of the pandemic has only added to this tendency of using private vehicles. People are now wary of using public transport for the fear of contracting the virus.
The commencement of Namma Metro services in 2011 generated the hope that commuting from point A to B will be hassle-free, and would bring down the traffic volumes on roads, once BMRCL increased its footprint across the city. However, commuters complain that even after a decade of becoming operational most stations lack last-mile connectivity, and BMTC’s feeder buses have a poor frequency. In fact, the transport utility has cut down on feeder buses after the pandemic began. Many areas in West Bengaluru include Kengeri, Jnanabharati, and Sir M V Layout, and few areas off Magadi Road are not well connected by BMTC or any other public transport. As the BMTC has failed to ensure proper connectivity on these routes, commuters are forced to spend hours waiting for a bus.
The Railways planned to upgrade the Byappanahalli railway station to integrate with the metro and BMTC. The aim is to reduce congestion at Yeshwantpur and Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna Railway Stations. Though work on the new terminus is almost complete, it has not been thrown open to the public. But in recent days the Railways, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL), and BMTC have been working in tandem to ensure last-mile connectivity to commuters. The integration between BMRCL, BMTC, and Railways for last-mile connectivity is a big task considering the Departmental approach and approval process. Phase 1 of Metro has many lessons to be learned by all three agencies and the NHAI. This is the need of the hour for commuters considering the huge capital expenditure incurred by all three entities. Commuters are the worst affected presently. Including Common Mobility Card and seamless connectivity of Foot Over Bridges (FOBs) or Underpass between the three entities are issues that need to be resolved on a war footing. The state government should provide separate funding instead of asking each entity to contribute to integration and last-mile connectivity. To cite an example, Kengeri urgently needs FOBs between the Metro station and the TTMC as people have a lot of problems crossing the road. For this, all the corporations concerned should work together.
The daily ridership of Namma Metro’s Phase 1 was five lakh in February 2020. However, following the pandemic and the introduction of the work-from-home concept, it has dropped to 1.2 lakhs. This has forced the BMTC to reduce the number of feeder buses on the road. Now, the BMTC is operating buses based on their traffic survey. Also, there are complaints that many metro stations lack parking space, which forces people to use their own vehicles. The BMRCL had earlier tied up with rental scooter companies like Bounce and Yulu at some stations, but only a few locations have the facility now. Bengaluru citizens feel that all government stakeholders like BBMP, BMTC, BMRCL, SWR, NHAI, BDA, UDD, DULT, and RTOs need to work closely in the larger interest of the city to improve last-mile connectivity. The state government needs to fund projects as a single nodal agency to implement last-mile connectivity. BMRCL however, has stated that efforts are being made to provide facilities like bus bays at all upcoming Metro stations under Phases 2 and 3. Efforts have been also taken to coordinate with different agencies and plan to survey pedestrian and vehicular traffic at places where the stations are being set up.
Multimodal Transportation: An Expansion
The city’s transition from predominantly street-based vehicles to one that is rail-based for commutes is going to throw up several challenges. No matter how much urban rail is built, it can never match the volume of roads in a city and all rail commutes will
most certainly involve streets for the last mile and pedestrian paths for the final lap of any commute in most cases. Thus the emphasis on buses, taxis, auto-rickshaws, and parking available close to train stations would be a necessity. Arranging multi-modal transfer facilities is a formidable task as multiple agencies would be involved, but it has to be done, no matter what, to attract commuters to trains being built with huge investments. The next ten years are going to see vast changes in travel habits in the city after a long period of uncertainty and debates for solutions when commuters were largely left in the lurch.
Conclusion
Bengaluru is one of the fastest growing cities in India and expanding vastly in all directions. As a result of a larger floating population with an increasing existing population of the city, there has been an increase in vehicular population adding to extreme congestion and air pollution on the city roads. The mass rapid transit system (MRTS) has been encouraged in the city so that commuters could start using public transport more and more, instead of using private vehicles. Metro has emerged as the safe mode of transport, but still, commuters continue with unsafe modes of transport due to limited connectivity of the metro rail. The outermost destination covered by BMTC services and feeder facility has to be improved by providing more numbers to last-mile destinations for the different sectors. The last mile defines the difficulty in getting people from a transportation hub to their final destination. It may be noted that commuter preference for mass transit systems (MTS) has increased since its launch but the traffic congestion does not seem to have reduced to that extent. First and last mile connectivity to public transport forms an important part of the
travel experience on public transport. In Bengaluru, the connectivity to public transport varies across the localities, with certain areas in the city having either metro, bus, or suburban connectivity. At present, there is no formal physical integration or information integration across the modes of transport in the city. This level of integration is imperative to encourage people to use public transport.
A report from WRI in 2017 highlighted a lack of affordable transport to the metro and bus stations in Bengaluru which further highlighted that people who live beyond 5 km from the metro stations are unlikely to prefer public transport. A survey conducted by Ola Mobility Institute in 2018 showed that 70% of citizens in Bengaluru felt the need for improving first and last-mile connectivity. In another survey, 24 % of the respondents stated a lack of first and last-mile connectivity as their reason for not using public transport. The new age mobility service providers in the city have been working on solutions to address the first and last mile gap. At present, the app-based bike taxi, bike rental, cycle rental, shared cabs, and carpooling among others are the options to cover the first and last mile journey. However, not all public transit stations at present have parking facilities for app-based rental vehicles. As highlighted, the use of walking as a mode of first and last-mile connectivity is very minimal. The use of non-motorized transport such as walking and cycling can be encouraged by providing walking and cycling infrastructure as well as providing cycle parking at metro stations. Shared mobility – shared cabs, and shared autos offer effective means of covering the first and the last mile to public transport. However, the existing regulations in the state of Karnataka restrict mobility service providers from offering these services. The shared auto services work efficiently in certain areas of Bengaluru connecting the interior parts of the city with public transit stations. Further, a shuttle service or a feeder bus system with a specific route covering the distance between residential areas to public transit stations is the most desirable option to close the first and last mile gap. The innovation in the mobility space to close the first and last mile gap such as bike taxis, e-rickshaw, and e-scooters should be encouraged as they offer better first and last mile connectivity. Additionally, a multi-modal integration of all public transit modes in the city would enable service providers to build solutions to close the first and last mile gap. The city’s poor public transport utilization needs urgent attention. We need to conduct pilots in a few high-traffic corridors aimed at providing the requisite physical infrastructure, connectivity services for the above use cases, and complete information integration across different public and shared mobility modes. Such a pilot would provide huge learning for deployment at scale across the city.

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