Bengaluru: Dedicated bus lane on ORR stays despite objections


In what is seen as a victory to the proponents of public transport, the year-old bus priority lane on the Outer Ring Road (ORR) – which is the city’s first – will stay for now. The decision, however, is likely to disappoint other stakeholders.

The exclusive corridor for BMTC buses received strong criticism from different quarters, especially after the Metro construction took off.

Various government agencies had put forward differing views on the bus lane that runs between Central Silk Board and Lowry Junction in KR Puram in a meeting held recently, BM found out.

The traffic police department suggested the removal of plastic bollards as they are causing traffic congestion. The authorities, though, have decided not to dismantle the plastic bollards for now.

The BBMP was of the view that mixed traffic should be allowed on the bus lane till the Metro work is over. The BMRCL took a neutral stand, BM’s told.

A source, who attended the meeting chaired by Karnataka’s additional chief secretary Ramana Reddy, said the DULT took everyone into confidence over retaining the bus priority lane.

The Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) managed to convince all agencies to retain the bus lane. DULT was clear that policy interventions such as bus priority lanes were necessary to draw people to public transport.

The DULT’s views received a backing from BMTC, which had once said pedestrians will overtake buses in a matter of few years if Bengaluru does not set up dedicated bus lanes. DULT, known for promoting non-motorised transport such as walking and cycling, is currently working on designs for extending bus priority lanes to a 70-km road network in the city.

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“The bus lane may cause some inconvenience but the BMRCL shall return some portion of the currently barricaded area after completing the pier works. In about six to eight months, two lanes on each direction will be provided for mixed traffic,” a senior BBMP official said.

A senior officer from the city traffic police said the move to fall back on the bus lane could be temporary. “The traffic on the ORR is relatively low as compared to pre-covid days. We are seeing traffic congestion mostly on Saturdays and Mondays. In places where the road is narrow, we will start allowing all types of vehicles on the bus lane. If the volume of traffic increases, we will suggest removal of plastic bollards,” the officer said.

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Transport experts, meanwhile, felt the authorities were looking at bus lanes as an engineering measure. They suggested increasing the frequency of buses so that the carrying capacity of the lane goes up.

Some argue the bus carries 70 passengers vis-à-vis a car or two-wheeler that accommodates just 2-4 individuals. This is true if the BMTC operates one bus every 1-2 minutes. At present, we do not even see one bus every five minutes…

— Raghavendra P, Civic activist

Commuters, who use the ORR on a regular basis believe the bus lane is adding to the chaos. “Some argue that the bus carries 70 passengers at a time vis-à-vis a car or two-wheeler carrying just 2-4 passengers. This argument holds true if the BMTC operates one bus every 1-2 minutes. At present, we do not even see one bus every five minutes. The lane is empty most of the time,” Raghavendra P, a civic activist from Vijayanagar said.

Other talking points that came up for Saturday’s discussion included: ORR companies’ stance on staggered timings and employee commute, BMTC increasing services on the ORR, installation of CCTV cameras to penalise bus lane violators and immediate towing of vehicles that breakdown on the ORR among other aspects. The ORR companies association has suggested allowing private buses on the bus lane too. The next meeting is scheduled in October.



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Sagar Biswas

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