What Bangalore needs foremost to come to grips with its key traffic problem is an apex transport authority suitably empowered, which brings within its scope all the government agencies and stakeholders who affect the city's traffic flow and are affected by it.
The Bangalore Metropolitan Land Transport Authority has been set up for this purpose, but is now little more than a committee without powers or a secretariat.
It is urgently necessary to strengthen it so that it discharges the role of a metropolitan planning authority, which has been mandated by the 74th amendment to the constitution, which enables devolution of powers to local urban bodies.
This was articulated by A Ravindra, former chief secretary, during a seminar on effective traffic management organised jointly by the urban governance study group of the Centre for Public Policy at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.
Bangalore has terrible traffic jams but is second to none in the use of IT in addressing urban issues. The emerging technologies to manage traffic and address broader urban issues were outlined by Aswin Mahesh with the N S Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at IIMB.
Mahesh and his group ultimately wish to create a comprehensive urban governance platform by using widely available affordable technology.
The group has developed a traffic information system with the help of GPS (global positioning system) enabled on cell phones using the GSM technology. It seeks to benefit from the integration of web, GIS (geographical information system) and telecom technologies.
A large section of Bangalore adults own cell phones and GIS enabled ones will become easily affordable in two years time. In the simplest terms, the information system can enable a person to know when exactly to get a bus at his nearest bus stop for his intended journey, thus eliminating waiting and uncertainty. The technology buffs have devised ways to get upfront information quickly and cheaply and plan solutions with it. What is now needed is the response to link the data to the planning.
Such response has already been initiated in Indore where a new, modern and reliable bus service system has come up under the public private partnership model.
Chandramauli Shukla, CEO, Indore City transport Services Ltd, outlined its essentials under which every bus is privately owned and operated, tracked by GIs and operators competitively bid for and run routes, in which there is no competition and get paid under an elaborate revenue sharing arrangement.
Indore is also executing an ambitious Rs 900 crore (Rs 90 billion) bus rapid transport project under the JNNURM, which involves creating 88 km of dedicated public transport corridor in two phases.
These will have bus, bicycle and pedestrian lanes and on completion should set a new benchmark in public transport in India.